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KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE STATE ATTORNEY
DATE: DEFT NAME: CASE NO: RE:
8/20/12 Yathomas Riley F10-17310
FROM: Anna Quesada Assistant State Attorney
At this time, the State is unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Yathomas Riley, shot the victim, Koketia King. Although the evidence demonstrates that the victim’s injuries were not self-inflicted, the recently discovered Brady1 material creates an insurmountable challenge to the prosecution of this action. (See Brady letter dated July 27, 2012, to defense counsel Kionne McGhee, in file). Unbeknownst to the State until July 26, 2012, the victim had been dishonest about her personal involvement with an inmate and her connection to that inmate’s possibly fraudulent criminal activity during the time that she was employed as a State Corrections Officer. This fact created concerns regarding the victim’s credibility in front of a jury. Immediately upon the discovery of this exculpatory evidence, the State turned over the information to defense counsel. Further, we reassessed the case and reviewed the evidence considering the new facts. It then became apparent that the victim had so polluted the case by lying to police, prosecutors and the court for over two (2) years that the State was forced to announce a nolle prosse. At trial, the prosecution has the burden of proving all charges beyond a reasonable doubt. However, it also has an ethical obligation to only take cases to trial it knows to be provable under that burden. This does not mean the State should only take cases to trial where a conviction is guaranteed. However, it does require the State to proceed to trial only on cases where it feels in good faith that it can satisfy this high burden. Therefore, although it is evident that the defendant was the one who shot the victim, the State no longer believes that it can prove it to a jury. Here, the victim lied about the contents of a key piece of evidence – the blood-stained letter from a prisoner. In the defendant’s post-Miranda2 statement to Miami-Dade homicide detectives, the defendant
Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
stated the victim told him that the letter “concerned income taxes the victim was helping the inmate who wrote the letter complete.” The defendant never mentioned that the victim was involved in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”). In fact, when the State introduced the letter into evidence at the defendant’s bond hearing on December 8, 2010, defense counsel Lance Armstrong failed to allege what this letter had to do with fraudulent income taxes. Despite the allegations made, no proof was ever presented to the State or to the Court that the victim had in fact been engaging in illegal activity with an inmate. No one, not even the defense attorney or the presiding judge at the bond hearing, ever noticed that the number in the letter was in fact a social security number and not a phone number. If defense counsel had noticed, he certainly would have pointed it out to the court, as it would have bolstered his defense and increased his chances of obtaining a bond for his client. Therefore, to the State’s knowledge, the fraud allegations remained accusations devoid of any support.3 It was not until the State read a Miami New Times Article, several weeks after it had been published, that it was ever brought to the State’s attention that the blood-stained letter included a variantcoded social security number disguised as a phone number. The article further corroborated this by interviewing a person named in the same letter. The person interviewed claimed to have been the victim of identity theft and stated the social security in the letter belong to her. She added that false income tax returns had been filed in her name. On the morning after reading the article, on a CD containing the victim’s numerous text messages, the State also discovered an outgoing text message containing the same social security number that was contained in the blood-stained letter.4 Prosecutors brought the victim into the State Attorney’s Office the following day to be interviewed and confronted her about these revelations, at which time she admitted involvement in certain tax activities with an inmate. It is interesting to note that the defendant’s attorneys had access to photographs depicting the blood-stained letter very early in this case, but never approached the State with the information about the phone number in fact being a social security number. While the defense claimed that the victim was, along with other corrections officers, involved in a scheme to defraud the IRS, they never provided evidence to substantiate those claims. If the defense possessed this knowledge, they had every opportunity to bring it to the State’s attention. They failed to do so. Before the discovery of the Brady material, the State had sufficient evidence to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition to the victim’s testimony, the State had other evidence that demonstrated the defendant’s guilt. It is important to note the following facts: 1.The testimony of Lead Homicide Detective, Dalyn Nye - The defendant’s postMiranda statements were made to Detective Nye. Detective Nye would have testified that the defendant’s version of events did not add up and were in direct conflict with the evidence found at the scene. (See Detective Nye’s 28 page report, specifically pages 10-13). 2.The testimony of Homicide Detective Maria Mederos – Detective Mederos was
3 On prior occasions, the State had asked the victim if she had any involvement with the filing of fraudulent tax returns. The victim denied any involvement. The victim was also asked in her deposition about filing fraudulent income taxes for inmates. Again, the victim denied any wrongdoing. 4 It is important to note that the defense never requested a copy of the victim’s cell phone information despite it having been made available in September of 2010.
present for the defendant’s post-Miranda statements and would have corroborated the testimony of Detective Nye. 3.The testimony of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain Gregory Logue - who would have testified that in his training and experience, the victim’s wounds were inconsistent with a suicide. The homicide detectives, crime scene detectives and medical examiner would have all corroborated that the location of the gunshot wound (on the philtrum of the victim’s face) is highly inconsistent with a suicide, and that the vast majority of gunshot suicide entrance wounds are either to the temple or in the mouth. These same witnesses would have also testified that it is very rare for women to kill themselves with guns. 4.The testimony of the first responding Homestead officers and the crime scene technicians – who would have testified that there were signs of a struggle in the bedroom; also inconsistent with a botched suicide attempt. 5.The testimony of Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Emma Lew – Dr. Lew would have testified as a medical expert hired for consultation. After Dr. Lew’s review of the evidence, she concluded that both the shot to the victim’s face and the one to her thigh were fired from a distance of more than two (2) to three (3) feet away. Dr. Lew based her conclusion on the fact that both wounds were devoid of burning, residue, or powder. Therefore, there was no evidence of a contact wound and that was inconsistent with a suicide. Moreover, Dr. Lew determined that the thigh wound was the entrance point of the projectile and the buttock wound was the exit. At the bond hearing, Dr. Lew testified that in order for the victim’s leg wound to have been self-inflicted as the defendant claimed, the victim would have to of held the firearm at a distance of more than two (2) to three (3) feet away from her right buttock and be able to pull the trigger – something very difficult for the victim to have been able to accomplish. Therefore, Dr. Lew’s medical opinion was in complete contradiction to the defendant’s version of the events as told to Detectives Nye and Mederos – that the victim had shot herself in the “ass”. Regarding the shot to the face, Dr. Lew also determined it was inconsistent with a self-inflicted wound. Dr. Lew characterized the possibility that the shots were self-inflicted as being “extreme” and “remote”. Dr. Lew would have also testified that she would have expected a more positive gunshot residue (hereinafter “GSR”) result if the victim had in fact been holding the gun as the defendant claimed, as she would not of had an opportunity to wash her hands before the test was administered. Dr. Lew noted that the defendant’s GSR results were less significant because he was up and about and holding onto his son, rolling around, etc. Dr. Lew’s testimony regarding the GSR would have also been corroborated by the State’s Analyst – Chris Hanlon. 6.Text messages sent to the victim by the defendant – The State was prepared to introduce text messages sent by the defendant to the victim just a couple months before the incident stating, “I’ma kill you” and another sent immediately after telling the victim to save that message (which she did and gave to the police after the defendant carried out his threat by shooting her two months later). 7.Testimony of Homestead Police Officer G. Reyes – Officer Reyes interviewed the victim’s two children (both of whom were in the house at the time of the shooting) just hours after the incident at the Homestead Police station. Y.R. (a minor), the defendant’s three 3 ½ year old son, stated that, “Daddy shoot (sic) Mommy.”
8.Kristi House interview of Y.R. – Following his interview with Ofc. Reyes, Y.R.
was interviewed again that same day at the Kristi House and repeated to the interviewer that, “Daddy shoot (sic) Mommy.” Y.R. can be seen in the video statement extending his arm and simulating a firearm discharge. 5
9.The second child, T.B. (age 9 at the time), was also interviewed twice on the day of the shooting: first by Ofc. Reyes and again at the Kristi House. In both statements T.B. claims that he was not in the room and did not see what happened. Prosecutors recently reinterviewed T.B. and he still maintains that he was not in the bedroom and did not see what occurred.6
It is also important to clarify certain misinformation which has been disseminated regarding the reason this case was delayed for two years. Although a Miami New Times article dated April 19, 2012, reports that “prosecutors have repeatedly pushed back the [trial] date”, this is a blatant lie. The State never requested a delay of the trial in this case and announced ready at every single trial setting. All nine continuances (i.e., delays) for the past two years were requested by Mr. Riley’s defense attorneys. This is easily verifiable from court records. In sum, although it is evident to the State that the defendant was the one who shot the victim, the fact that the victim repeatedly lied to both police and prosecutors about a key piece of evidence in the case has fatally hindered the State’s ability to prosecute it. Therefore, a decision was made to dismiss all charges against this defendant. The victim was advised in advance about the state’s decision. It should also be noted that the victim has a non-expiring injunction for protection against the defendant and was further advised by prosecutors that she should immediately notify police if the defendant ever violates the injunction upon his release from jail.
The State recently re-interviewed Y.R. (now five years old). However, it is questionable whether he would have been found competent to testify under Florida law. Moreover, the admissibility of child hearsay in criminal cases has been significantly curtailed since Crawford v. Washington , 541 U.S. 36 (2004), and its progeny. See Corona v. State, 64 So.3d 1232 (Fla. 2011). 6 The defense recently listed a witness, an upstairs neighbor, who claims that she spoke with T.B. minutes after the shooting and that T.B. told her that his mother shot herself. The state is highly skeptical of this witness given that (1) she was disclosed over two years after-the-fact and (2) in both of his statements to police, T.B. never mentions anything about his mother shooting herself. Moreover, even if T.B. did make this statement to the neighbor, it is quite plausible that he was simply repeating what he heard the defendant telling 911 and was not speaking from personal knowledge. The neighbor admitted in deposition that she never asked any questions of T.B. to clarify whether this was the case.
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