Rocker with local ties released from Czech jail

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, August 8, 2012

RICHMOND—A former Franklin man and front man of the Richmond-based heavy metal band Lamb of God has returned home after a month in a Czech Republic prison in connection with the death of a fan during a 2010 show.

Randy Blythe, 41, who at one time lived on Barrett Street, released a statement Monday after being set free on bail from Pankrac Prison Friday.

“I was told by my attorney that I had a lot support from peers in the music industry, my hometown, fans, and of course my family,” Blythe said in the statement. “I cannot express how emotional it made me upon my release to read about even a fraction of the voices that were raised on my behalf. From legends in my music community, to fans across the world, and even people who were previously unaware of my existence but sympathized with my plight- I am truly humbled.”

Blythe was charged for allegedly pushing a fan off stage during a show in Prague after the man rushed the stage three times. He fell, hit his head and later died. Blythe maintained his innocence, but said he would return to face a trial if necessary.

“While I maintain my innocence 100 percent and will do so steadfastly, I will not hide in the United States, safe from extradition and possible prosecution,” he said.

Family friend Heidi Bunch of Courtland hasn’t spoken with Blythe, but said the news was “wonderful.”

“Hopefully everything will be cleared up quickly and be over and done with,” the 38-year-old said Tuesday.

Blythe, who attended S.P. Morton Elementary School, Hayden Middle School and Franklin High School for two years before moving to Chesapeake, said he was not mistreated while in jail.

“People are dying of starvation all over the world,” Blythe said. “Men and women are losing their lives daily in the Middle East and other war torn regions. I had food, clothes, shelter and no one was trying to kill me. I cannot complain over a short stay in prison while many people elsewhere fight to survive on a daily basis.”