Scotsman Kenny Richey was on death row for 21 years for alleged involvement in a fire, until his conviction was overturned and he was finally released in January 2008.
Kenny was convicted of murder in 1987, after a child died in an apartment building fire. The prosecution claimed that he was trying to kill his ex-girlfriend by starting a fire in the building where he was supposed to be babysitting the child.
At trial, the State presented highly dubious forensic evidence that the fire was deliberately started. This evidence was subsequently condemned by forensic experts as based on ‘unsound scientific principles’. It seems very likely that the fire was an accident.
In August 2007, Kenny’s conviction was overturned on the basis that he had received inadequate legal representation at his trial, and he was transferred to the county jail, where he was awaiting a retrial. It was the first time he had been off death row for 21 years.
In January 2008, Kenny reached an agreement with the prosecution which saw him released without facing retrial. The deal saw Kenny plead “nolo contendere” (no contest) to charges of attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and breaking and entering – which essentially meant that he was pleading to failure to babysit - and was exonerated of intentionally starting a fire.
He has now moved back to Scotland, and is living in Edinburgh.
Update: all charges against Kenny regarding an attack in Edinburgh have now been dropped.