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Sixth Circuit overturns Scottish man's death penalty conviction

[JURIST] Citing "constitutional errors", the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals [court website] Tuesday overturned the controversial conviction and death sentence of British national Kenny Richey [prisoner advocacy website] of Edinburgh. Richey will be released from death row in 90 days unless prosecutors decide to retry the case. Richey moved to Ohio in 1981 to live with his father and was charged with setting a fire at his ex-girlfriend's house that resulted in the death of a two year old girl. He was convicted of her murder in 1987, but officials and politicians in Britain and Europe lobbied hard on his behalf. In 1992, the European Parliament [official website] passed a resolution expressing doubt about the validity of the sentence, Pope John Paul II and the former Archbishop of Canterbury pleaded for revocation of the death penalty, and last March 150 British MPs signed a petition pledging support for Richey's claim of innocence. Richey's defense attorneys don't believe that Ohio will attempt a retrial due to the death of several key witnesses, but Jeff Gamzo of the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] has speculated that the state could appeal the reversal to the Ohio Supreme Court. Read the Sixth Circuit opinion [PDF] of the decision. The Scotsman has local coverage.

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