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Murder trial of Michael and Carolyn Riley on hold

BROCKTON - Unrelated murder cases seldom affect each other, but that’s what happened Thursday.

Attorneys for Michael and Carolyn Riley had hoped to reschedule the former Hull couple’s trial date, but they couldn’t because the prosecutor for the case couldn’t come to Plymouth Superior Court.

Frank Middleton spent most of the day at the city’s district court, at the arraignment of Brockton murder suspect Keith Luke.

Luke, 22, is charged with killing two Cape Verdeans and wounding a third, in what police are calling a racist shooting spree against nonwhite people.

The Rileys are charged with killing their four-year-old daughter Rebecca Riley in December 2006 with an overdose of the prescription sedative Clonidine.

A doctor prescribed the Clonidine for Rebecca for hyperactivity.

The Rileys’ trial was scheduled to begin Thursday, but can’t begin until a state appeals court panel decides whether they’ll face first-degree or second-degree murder charges.

In Middleton’s absence, the Rileys’ hearing was postponed until Feb. 25. A trial date could be set then.

Carolyn Riley was at court yesterday, as required by her probation terms. She was in jail without bail for 20 months after she and Michael Riley were arrested in February 2007, but is now living on her own while she awaits trial.

She declined comment about the case or her living arrangements.

As the Rileys and their attorneys await a trial date, they’re also waiting for Superior Court judge Charles Hely to allow a private forensic pathologist to retest of tissue samples from Rebecca.

Carolyn Riley claims the girl died from pneumonia, not the Clonidine. Her attorney, Michael Bourbeau, said that can be done quickly if it’s approved.

Lane Lambert may be reached at llambert@ledger.com.