Editor's note: This is a corrected version of a story posted on this web site on Dec. 4 and published in The Patriot Ledger on Dec. 5.
Lawyer says no premeditation by Hull pair in daughter's death
Lawyers for Michael and Carolyn Riley of Hull argued Thursday that a judge acted correctly in reducing the charge against them in the death of their 4-year-old daughter from first-degree murder to second-degree.
BOSTON - Lawyers for Michael and Carolyn Riley of Hull argued Thursday that a judge acted correctly in reducing the charge against them in the death of their 4-year-old daughter from first-degree murder to second-degree.
Rebecca Riley was found dead in her parents' apartment in Hull on Dec. 13, 2006. They were charged with murder three months later.
The Rileys, both Weymouth natives, are scheduled to go on trial next month. Prosecutors accuse them of intentionally overdosing their daughter Rebecca with drugs, including the powerful sedative Clonidine, which had been prescribed for her hyperactivity.
“The Commonwealth’s claim is they wanted to shut her up, they wanted to quiet her so they could sleep," Jane Larmon White, who represents Michael Riley, told a three-judge Appeals Court panel.
The court is considering prosecution's request to reinstate the first-degree murder charges.
Superior Court Judge John P. O’Connor reduced the charges last December. He said that after reviewing the grand jury testimony, he decided there was enough evidence to indict the Rileys, but no evidence that Rebecca’s death was premeditated. White and Chrystal Murray, who is representing Carolyn Riley, said O’Connor correctly reduced the charges.
At Thursday's hearing, Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Gail McKenna said the courts should let a jury decide whether the Rileys are guilty of the more serious charge.
“The grand jury is not a dress rehearsal for the trial,” McKenna said.
Investigators say that Rebecca had been sick for several days and that she had coughed uncontrollably the night before she died. She went into her parents room at least five times and asked to sleep in their bed. Her father refused her each time, according to police reports.
“It got really annoying!” Michael Riley told police when they came to investigate the child’s death.
When police went into the apartment, Rebecca was dead on the floor, dressed in only a pink diaper.
A psychiatrist prescribed Clonidine and Depakote for Rebecca after diagnosing her as hyperactive and bipolar when she was 2.
In September, the Rileys’ lawyers offered the first public defense of their clients: Rebecca died of pneumonia, not a drug overdose, as the state medical examiner’s office ruled after an autopsy.
The Appeals Court typically issues a ruling within four months. The Rileys’ trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 22 in Brockton.
Lane Lambert may be reached at email@example.com.