OTTAWA — A change of venue request by the defense for the trial of a man who is accused of threatening a former judge in Putnam County was denied Thursday in court.
Kenneth Richey, 55, who spent 21 years in prison in the death of a Columbus Grove girl, was arrested in October on allegations of retaliation against former Putnam County Judge Randall Basinger in an online Facebook Live video. A trial has been set at 8:30 a.m. Feb 24 to 26.
Richey appeared in court Thursday before Putnam County Common Pleas Court Judge Keith Schierloh with his attorney Alex Treece.
In regards to change of venue, Treece submitted 24 newspaper articles to the court from area newspapers that have reported on Richey’s case.
“Pretrial coverage of this case has been so extensive and before determining a jury, this is not a proper venue for this to be heard,” Treece said.
Schierloh said some of the potential jurors who will be selected for the case don’t read the newspaper. He suggested the defense come up with questions they would have for potential jurors involving the case and submit them to the court before the trial.
Todd Schroeder, assistant prosecutor, said there is no basis at this time that Richey cannot receive a fair trial in Putnam County.
The state made a motion request for a password for Richey’s cell phone on Nov. 11, 2019.
“It is a violation of the fifth amendment to give a cell phone password and I ask the court to withdraw that motion,” Treece said.
Schierloh denied the state’s request for Richey’s cell phone password.
A motion for disclosure of grand jury testimony was heard from the defense. Schierloh said the court will allow video taped grand jury testimony to be reviewed by the defense before the trial.
Richey was prosecuted in 1986 on charges of aggravated murder, arson and child endangerment in the death of Cynthia Collins, 2, in Columbus Grove, who died in an apartment fire. In 1987, he was found guilty and sentenced to death row.
He had dual British-U.S. citizenship, and the case received international attention in places where the death penalty is not allowed. A letter against his execution was signed by more than 100 members of the British Parliament and the late Pope John Paul II.
Richey spent 21 years in prison, most of the sentence on death row. His conviction was overturned on appeal, as the court was concerned with how his defense handled the case.
Richey plead guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and was credited with time served and released.
After his release, he returned to Scotland for a short period and then returned to the U.S., where he moved to Tupelo, Mississippi. While living there, he verbally threatened former Putnam County Assistant Prosecutor and Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Basinger in 2012. He was arrested and indicted on a single charge of retaliation, a third-degree felony. He was convicted and given a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.