Patriot Ledger Special Report: Everyone Failed Rebecca Return to The Patriot Ledger home page Return to Special Reports at The Patriot Ledger
Older Stories

Rileys: Grand jury was tricked

Hull couple asks judge to dismiss charges in overdose death of 4-year-old daughter

The Patriot Ledger

BROCKTON – Attorneys for a Hull couple accused of giving their 4-year-old daughter a fatal overdose of pills allege that a Plymouth County prosecutor manipulated the grand jury to obtain first-degree murder indictments against their clients.

Carolyn Riley Michael Riley
Carolyn Riley
Michael Riley

As a result, the charges should be tossed out, defense attorneys Michael Bourbeau and John Darrell told a Plymouth Superior Court judge in Brockton on Wednesday.

But prosecutor Frank Middleton said the defense claims were off base and an insult to the grand jurors who carefully weighed the evidence before deciding that Michael and Carolyn Riley wanted their daughter, Rebecca, dead.

Middleton said the defense had been unable to make specific allegations and was attempting to mitigate adverse public sentiment against the Rileys.

“They can’t point to anything that was misleading,” Middleton argued. “Their motions should be denied. We should move on.”

Bourbeau, who represents 33-year-old Carolyn Riley, said the grand jury was given prejudicial and biased evidence that pointed to her as a killer for allegedly giving her daughter an intentional overdose of medication.

A medical examiner’s report said the youngster died of an overdose of clonidine, one of a number of drugs that had been prescribed to her because of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Bourbeau said Carolyn Riley did nothing wrong and constantly went to a doctor to get help for her daughter.

“This is a mother who loved her child and cared for her child in the best way possible,” Bourbeau said.

The defense blames Dr. Kayoko Kifuji, a psychiatrist at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, for prescribing clonidine and other medication for Rebecca. Kifuji, who has not been charged in the case, has voluntarily agreed to stop practicing while the state Board of Registration in Medicine investigates.

Darrell, the attorney for Michael Riley, 34, said the prosecutor took the grand jury down an unfair path, leading to a murder indictment.

“They (prosecutors) have an obligation to present more than their limited view of the facts,” Darrell said. “The procedure used at the grand jury was a joke.”

Bourbeau has accused Middleton of releasing an inflammatory and misleading arrest-warrant affidavit after the Rileys were arrested earlier this year. That document was widely used in media reports to describe what allegedly happened to Rebecca in the weeks before her Dec. 13 death at her family’s Hull home.

In the affidavit, Rebecca is described as likely having suffered severely before she died. The affidavit also contains statements from other adults living in the house who said they begged the Rileys to seek medical attention for Rebecca because she seemed so sick.

Middleton said Bourbeau had failed to bring up a relevant issue to support dismissal of a murder charge against Carolyn Riley.

“He does not base anything on fact or truth,” the prosecutor said about Bourbeau. “It’s fiction. He doesn’t give you the truth. He doesn’t want you to see the truth.”

Middleton last month blamed Bourbeau for allegedly leaking impounded grand-jury testimony to reporters about the case.

Judge Thomas P. Connor Jr. is expected to rule on the motions to dismiss within a few weeks.

The Rileys are being held without bail. The couple’s two other children are in foster care.

Dennis Tatz may be reached at