OTTAWA — More than 30 years after he was convicted of murder and aggravated arson for causing the death of a toddler in an apartment fire in Columbus — a crime that led him to spend 20-plus years on Ohio’s death row — and nearly eight years after he was convicted of retaliation against former Putnam County Assistant Prosecutor Randall Basinger, Kenneth Richey was back on trial Monday in Putnam County Common Pleas Court on charges related to more alleged threats against the man who contributed to his original 1987 conviction.
Testimony began after lunch in three cases against Richey, all of which allege the Columbus man threatened Basinger and his family, violated protection orders and tampered with evidence repeatedly over the past several years.
Richey, 55, was indicted in October 2019 for allegedly making threats against Basinger on Facebook. In November 2019, another indictment charged Richey with two counts of retaliation and one count of violating a protection order for a similar but separate incident. In May he was charged with 12 counts of retaliation, four counts of violation of a protection order and one count of tamping with evidence for another set of alleged threats against Basinger.
Lt. Josh Strick, of the Ottawa Police Department, kicked off testimony by telling jurors of the contents of four of 49 Facebook Live videos obtained by investigators in which Richey made explicit threats against a person he repeatedly described as “the man who ruined my life.”
Strick testified he first learned of the existence of Facebook Live videos made by Richey from the man’s cousin, Ottawa resident Vicky Emry. The woman contacted Strick on Sept. 23, 2019, to bring attention to a particular video in which Richey said that “the man who took my life away” was going to die. Portions of other videos were played for jurors, and each contained threats against an unspecified individual that Strick said he believed to be Basinger.
Another video features Richey saying, “That bitch owes me, and I’m coming to get him. Payback’s a bitch.”
During his cross-examination of Strick, defense attorney Greg Meyers got the police officer to confirm that Basinger’s name was never mentioned on any of the Facebook Live videos and that Strick’s belief that it was Basinger that was being discussed was merely an assumption on the investigator’s part.
“The fact that he (Richey) threatened Randy Basinger in the past does not mean he is guilty this time,” Meyers said. The attorney stressed that throughout several “drunken, stupid comments” his client made on Facebook there is no mention of Basinger.
“We ask you to look at the evidence in this case and avoid the temptation to look at past bad acts” on Richey’s behalf, Meyers told jurors.