"LONDON (AP) -- Five hundred years after the crime, a British jury has found King Richard III innocent of the murder of The Little Princes, the two young nephews he seized and put in the Tower of London because they stood between him and the throne.

The "jury," 12 ordinary Britons assembled by London Weekend Television, delivered its unanimous verdict after four hours of testimony in a mock courtroom. The judge and lawyers in "The Trial of Richard III," broadcast Sunday night, were eminent jurists. The witnesses were historians and a forensics expert."

POOR RICHARD. Five centuries, and still the do-gooders show no sign of relenting in their earnest, "By-gosh-we're-going-to-get-to-the- bottom-of-this" effort to find out whether the late king of England did the crimes he has been so eloquently accused of. There's even a Richard III Society, which has as its goal the clearing of his name.

But do these people think that Richard, at this late stage in his career, really wants to be acquitted, possibly with the help of some lawyer who can show he was out kissing babies or cutting the ribbon at a cathedral-opening when the little princes' death was being planned? Do they think Richard hasn't enjoyed prancing across the world's stages as a sort of medieval Mick Jagger for the past 400 years, ever since Shakespeare wrote the famous docudrama about him? Don't they realize it can be fun to be a paradigm, even if it's a paradigm of evil?

Apparently they don't. It seems they won't be happy until Richard is remembered as a pretty good king who read and initialed memos, tended to defense matters, promoted worthy activities and did a generally workmanlike job -- a Millard Fillmore among monarchs whose downfall was occasioned by the fact that the contending parties in those days had wars instead of national conventions, and he lost his.

It won't do. Ever since Shakespeare wrote Richard up for the stage, audiences have been clamoring for him. We need Richard with his ugliness and his insinuating ways, corrupting and betraying all those about him, commissioning bloody murders, making up tall tales and finally being tormented with a terrible case of insomnia by the ghosts of those he has slain. Please, no more legal-historical proceedings of the sort concluded in London last weekend. Let the good be interred with his bones. Let Richard be Richard.