Criminal Justice

Former Death Row Inmate Charged with Threatening Judge Who Once Prosecuted Him

A man who spent 21 years on Ohio’s death row before his conviction was overturned in 2008 has been charged with leaving a threatening telephone message for the judge who prosecuted the death penalty case against him.

Ken Richey, 47, is accused of calling the Putnam County, Ohio, courthouse on New Year’s Eve to warn Judge Randall Basinger, a former county prosecutor, that he was in Ohio and was coming to get him, the Associated Press reports.

Richey, who is charged with retaliation and violating a civil protection order, pleaded not guilty Wednesday and is being held in jail without bail.

Prosecutors said that Richey, who now lives in Tupelo, Miss., didn’t identify himself in the message he left for Basinger. But they said they thought they recognized him from his Scottish accent and were able to trace the call back to him.

Richey spent 21 years on death row after being convicted of setting a fire that killed a 2-year-old girl in 1986. His conviction was overturned in 2008 after a federal court determined that his lawyers mishandled the case. He was freed after pleading no contest to an attempted involuntary manslaughter charge.

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