OTTAWA — In the week prior to his jury trial for allegedly threatening a former Putnam County prosecutor who contributed to a conviction that landed him on Ohio’s death row 33 years ago, Kenneth Richey has made numerous allegations about that county’s “corrupt” legal system.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday morning in Putnam County Common Pleas Court in three separate cases against Richey, all of which revolve around threats he allegedly made against former prosecutor and judge Randall Basinger.
Basinger was an assistant prosecutor in Putnam County who assisted in the 1987 trial in which Richey was convicted of aggravated murder and aggravated arson in the death of 2-year-old Cynthia Collins in a June 30, 1986, apartment fire in Columbus Grove.
Richey spent more than 20 years on Ohio’s death row before being freed when a federal judge ruled he had not received adequate legal representation at trial. A new trial was ordered. Richey ultimately accepted a deal from prosecutors that called for him to be sentenced to time already served and to leave jail a free man.
In the years since, Richey has been in and out of trouble with the law. On several occasions, he allegedly made threats to Basinger. Monday’s trial is scheduled to address three of those alleged incidents.
In letters written by Richey and obtained Thursday by The Lima News, Richey alleged incompetence on the part of his court-appointed attorney and cited unsubstantiated cases of “corruption” on the part of Judge Dale Crawford, the visiting judge from Franklin County who will preside over his case.
Richey, in a letter to Crawford dated Jan. 18 of this year, also requested a change in venue for his upcoming trial.
“The publicity in this county and surrounding area over the years has been immense and made me well known and even hated. A fair and impartial jury in this case would be impossible in Putnam County,” Richey wrote.
“Putnam County corruption will be exposed. … Abusing your public positions of power seems to be a favorite pastime of Putnam County officials. As an honorably discharged Marine who served for this country, I am truly disgusted!” the letter concluded.
The motion was denied by the judge.
In a June 12 letter to Attorney Greg Meyer, Richey alleged Meyer had violated his Sixth Amendment rights by not providing an adequate defense. He said Meyer should have filed motions to separate the counts in each case — which allegedly took place on three separate occasions — and to have individual trials for each case.
“I feel like I am being screwed over again and about to be railroaded,” Richey wrote to his attorney. “The state hates the fact that they lost the Death Row case against me and were made to look like idiots. They want revenge and will try every wrongful thing they can to convict me.”
In a letter to the Putnam County Clerk of Courts dated June 25, Richey asked that Meyer be removed from the case. In a separate letter to the clerk, Richey filed a motion to request that Crawford “… be replaced with another judge on the grounds that Judge Crawford is bias (sic), due to the fact that he (1) presided over a similar case of mine back in 2012 in which he convicted me; (2) … has been noted as being corrupt, dishonest, unfair, improper and unjust, as has been documented in the book ‘Checkmate,’ by Steven Kraus, whom I plan on calling as a defense witness; and (3) Judge Crawford and Judges Basinger and Schierloh (Putnam County Common Pleas Court Judge Keith) are all friends…. Such improprieties cannot be tolerated.”