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Published January 13, 2010, 07:38 AM

Once on death row, Brit charged in US with assault

BAXTER, Minn. (AP) — A British citizen who spent two decades on Ohio's death row before his conviction was overturned was charged with assault after authorities say he smacked his son in the head with a baseball bat.

BAXTER, Minn. (AP) — A British citizen who spent two decades on Ohio's death row before his conviction was overturned was charged with assault after authorities say he smacked his son in the head with a baseball bat.

It was the second time since Kenneth Richey's release two years ago that he was accused of assault.

Richey, 45, who once came within an hour of being executed, lived in his native Scotland after his release but returned to the U.S. and was living with his ex-wife and their son in Minnesota.

He was arrested Jan. 6 after his son, Sean Richey, told police his father grew angry and attacked him after the pair had been wrestling playfully.

Sean Richey, 24, said he hid in his bedroom after his father threatened to kill him, according to a criminal complaint. His father broke down the door and hit him with the bat, the report said.

The elder Richey was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, terroristic threats and domestic assault. He was freed on $3,000 bond. Police said Richey also threatened a police officer and jail staff. A court date was scheduled for Jan. 19.

Richey could not be reached for comment Tuesday. There was no listing for him in Minnesota, and it was not known whether he has an attorney.

He was convicted in northwest Ohio of setting a fire in 1986 that killed a 2-year-old girl, but he maintained his innocence. His case received international attention and he won support from members of the British Parliament and the late Pope John Paul II.

A federal appeals court determined his lawyers mishandled the case and overturned Richey's conviction and death sentence in 2007. Richey then pleaded no contest to attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and breaking and entering in a plea deal that allowed him to be freed without linking him to the fire.

Richey, a U.S.-British citizen, agreed to leave the country and return to Scotland. The deal allowed him to come back to the United States, but he must stay out of Putnam County, where the fire took place.

Following his return to Scotland, he moved in with his mother. He was accused of breaking into the apartment of a 64-year-old man last summer and returning a few days later, beating the man with a metal pipe. Scottish prosecutors dropped assault charges against Richey when a witness failed to back the victim's story.

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