OTTAWA — A Putnam County jury on Tuesday found a former death row inmate guilty of making threats against a former county prosecutor and judge.
Jurors deliberated for just 90 minutes before determining that Kenneth Richey made unlawful threats against a former Putnam County Assistant Prosecutor Randall Basinger and found him guilty of four counts of retaliation, felonies of the third degree.
The third-degree felony charges carry a maximum prison sentence of three years each. Richey will be sentenced Aug. 14.
The state wrapped up its case against Richey before noon Tuesday by calling Basinger to the witness stand. The former prosecutor and judge became emotional at times while discussing what he perceived as credible threats against himself and his family that were made by Richey on four specific occasions in 2019.
Basinger’s voice cracked when discussing a Sept. 23 threat by Richey.
“I had to tell my children that Kenneth Richey was threatening to kill their children,” he said. The former prosecutor showed tinges of anger when recalling death threats contained in a Facebook Live video where Richey is heard to say “… that mother-(expletive) who took my life is gonna die; he and his family.”
Basinger also testified that a letter from 1986 while Richey was an inmate in the Putnam County jail was intercepted by jail authorities and “stated that he wanted to kill me … wanted to hire someone to kill me … so I would rot in hell.”
As a result of those threats, Basinger said he took firearm training and obtained a concealed carry permit in addition to beefing up his home surveillance system in an effort to keep himself and his family safe.
Richey was convicted in 2012 of making threats against Basinger and served a three-year prison term for the offenses. The allegations in the most recent case allege that on or about June 8, June 9, June 14 and Sept. 23 of 2019 Richey made Facebook Live recordings intended to intimidate and threaten Basinger. Jurors heard portions of those recordings during the trial.
Another witness testified long distance — from Mississippi — via a Zoom conferencing call. Karen Charves Richey, Kenneth Richey’s ex-wife, recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus and Judge Dale Crawford allowed her remote testimony in the name of the health and safety of all persons involved in the trial.
The woman said her ex-husband had on more than one occasion referred to Basinger as “the man who destroyed his life.”
In May of this year Richey was formally charged with 12 counts of retaliation, four counts of violation of a protection order and one count of tamping with evidence. Prior to the start of the trial Prosecutor Micah Alt dismissed the protection order charge, and several other counts were dismissed by Judge Dale Crawford after the state had rested its case.
Citing Ohio case law, Crawford said eight of the counts of retaliation against Richey were the result of alleged threats against Basinger’s children and grandchildren. Because of the language contained in the indictment and due to the fact that Basinger’s family members could not be considered “public servants,” the judge dismissed those counts. Also dismissed was a tampering with evidence count due to a question of in what venue the alleged crime was committed.
Crawford called the indictment poorly crafted.
Prior to the beginning of jury deliberations, Defense Attorney Greg Meyers — in his closing statements — said the state had failed to prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“Did (Richey) purposely utter a threat against Randall Basinger, expecting that that threat would travel up to Putnam County? Maybe. But maybe is not enough. You can’t convict on a hunch, or on the fact that he’s done this before,” Meyers said.
Richey showed no emotion when the guilty verdicts were read.
In 1987 Richey was convicted in the death of 2-year-old Cynthia Collins in an apartment fire the previous year in Columbus Grove. A three-judge panel sentenced him to death, where he spent more than 20 years before being granted a new trial after a federal court ruled he had not received adequate legal representation.
Basinger was the lead prosecutor in that case.