Kenneth Richey, a British and an American citizen, is expected to be freed soon after spending 20 years on Ohio’s death row for the murder of his ex-girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter in a 1986 apartment fire. Richey’s conviction was overturned by a federal court in August 2007 after 15 years of appeals that cast doubts on witness testimony and the competency of his defense attorney at the initial trial. More recently, the original evidence presented by arson experts was found to be based on "unsound scientific principles," and it now appears that the fire that killed 2-year-old Cynthia Collins was accidental.
Richey will plead no contest to attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and breaking and entering. He is expected to be sentenced to time already served. Richey’s original trial was heard by three judges after his defense attorney advised him to forgo a jury trial. Prosecutors stated that Richey, who maintained his innocence throughout the trial, did in fact try to save the toddler. The judges, however, did not take that evidence under consideration. His case prompted intervention by Tony Blair, the Pope, the European Parliament and Amnesty International.
Alistair Carmichael, a Scottish Member of Parliament who had campaigned for Richey’s release, stated after he heard the news, “The reality of somebody who is kept locked up in a cell for 23 hours a day for 19 years is quite mind-blowing. It is a dreadful, inhumane and dehumanising system. If one man is off it, then remember there are hundreds of people in America still enduring that dreadful situation.”