Saturday, 12 January 2008

Reactions mixed on case, plea deal

January 11, 2008

Scottish papers agog over Richey

Reactions mixed on case, plea deal


EDINBURGH, Scotland - "I'm Scot free," the Scottish Sun headline
declared yesterday over a flag-draped image of a grinning Kenneth

"It's great to be home," declared The Herald over a photo of Richey
with a raised fist.

Loved or reviled, Richey's triumphant return to his homeland after
escaping Ohio's death penalty was plastered across the front pages of
many Scottish newspapers, his singing of a tartan song and his waving
of the Lion Rampant flag at Edinburgh International Airport taken as
signs he's back where he belongs.

But the reaction to his return inside those newspapers was decidedly
mixed, as reporters and columnists alternately reviewed his
appearance, heralded him as a triumph over a flawed American justice
system, and described him as "smug'' and unfeeling toward 2-year-old
Cynthia Collins, who died in a 1986 Columbus Grove, Ohio, apartment
fire while supposedly under his care.

Reevel Alderson of the BBC said many in Scotland are under the
impression Richey has returned to his home country exonerated of
charges stemming from the fatal fire that made him the only Scot on
death row worldwide.

"That's not the case,'' the BBC reporter said. "He is a convicted
man. He's convicted of a lesser charge. He's still convicted of
killing a 2-year-old girl."

In a Putnam County plea deal, Richey on Monday pleaded no contest to
charges of attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment,
and breaking and entering.

In return, the prosecution dropped charges of aggravated murder and
arson that Richey was initially convicted of, but prosecutors were no
longer confident they could prove 21 years later.

The case had been sent back to Putnam County for a retrial after the
U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned his
convictions, ruling that his defense lawyer was ineffective at trial
in challenging questionable arson evidence used to initially convict

Some coverage in Scotland has focused on Richey's pale appearance at
Edinburgh Airport compared to his more dapper appearance in court
Monday, his public embrace of all that is Scotland, and his renewed
relationship with his ex-wife.

But other reports have focused on concerns of some of those who will
be his neighbors in central Edinburgh's residential Dalry community
when he re-emerges after several quiet days in a hotel with his
mother, Eileen, and brother, Steve, of Cloverdale, Ohio.

Richey has sold the rights to his homecoming story to the Mail on
Sunday newspaper, Sunday People tabloid, and SkyTV for an estimated

"Forty thousand pounds is a lot of money for a guy who's got nothing,
but in terms of the amount of money that is spent on exclusive
stories, particularly for celebrities for instance, this is absolute
chicken feed," Mr. Alderson said. "I think that reflects the fact
that there isn't world interest in the story."

James Matthews, on-air reporter for SkyTV, said he had no details
about SkyTV's financial arrangements with Richey, but he said
interest in the story is high.

"He was one of the very few British people on death row," he said.
"That's the interest."

The buying of news stories is not uncommon in the British media.
"It's of interest to us because he's been on death row for 21 years,
and he has been able to make the papers here from time to time," said
Peter Kelly, photographer for the Scottish Sun.

Richey's story has seemed to fascinate Scotland and, to a lesser
extent, the United Kingdom in general.

The United Kingdom doesn't have capital punishment, and typical
murder convictions often bring maximum prison sentences of about 15

Richey's story has never been as big in the United States. On
Wednesday, Richey's return to Edinburgh after essentially being run
out of Ohio had to compete for attention with Gov. Ted Strickland's
commutation of John Spirko's death sentence to life in prison.

When he left prison Monday, Richey had cited Spirko, who'd been
convicted in the stabbing of a Van Wert County postmaster, as another
"innocent" man on death row.

"The thing for me is that in the U.K. and certainly in Scotland,
there's been very little [press] investigation into the actual
[Richey] case, as to exactly what happened," Mr. Kelly said.

Contact Jim Provance at:
jprovance@theblade. com
or 614-221-0496.

http://www.toledobl pbcs.dll/ article?AID= /20080111/NEWS02/801110339/ -1/RSS

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