Lawyer: Prosecutors claim parents drugged child over money
By Associated Press
Monday, March 5, 2007 – Updated: 04:35 PM EST
BOSTON – Prosecutors believe the parents accused of fatally overdosing their 4-year-old daughter killed the girl because she wasn’t earning them the same amount of government money as her two older siblings, the woman’s defense lawyer said Monday.
Michael Bourbeau, Carolyn Riley’s lawyer, told The Associated Press a prosecutor outlined for him the motive, which he called ”a sick theory.”
Carolyn and Michael Riley, of Hull, are charged with murder in the Dec. 13 death of their daughter, Rebecca.
Prosecutors have called the girl’s death an ”intentional overdose,” but have declined to publicly discuss a motive. According to a state police investigator’s report, witnesses told police the Rileys gave their daughter large doses of powerful prescription drugs to keep her quiet and sleeping for long periods of time.
Bourbeau said Assistant District Attorney Frank Middleton told him prosecutors believe the Rileys sent Rebecca to a psychiatrist so she would be classified as disabled and become eligible for government benefits.
”He said they went to this doctor in order to get the drugs and place the child on disability, and when they couldn’t and when Rebecca wasn’t bringing in any money, they killed her,” Bourbeau said.
”It is totally insane, if not just simply sick. It’s a sick theory,” he said.
Middleton did not return a call seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Middleton’s boss, District Attorney Timothy Cruz, declined comment.
The Rileys’ two older children, now ages 11 and 6, had gone to the same psychiatrist and been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and were receiving Supplemental Security Income, a program administered by the Social Security Administration, according to Carolyn’s mother, Valerie Berio.
Carolyn Riley told police the same psychiatrist, Dr. Kayoko Kifuji, had diagnosed Rebecca with the same illnesses when she was 2½.
But for some unknown reason, Rebecca wasn’t eligible to receive the same benefits, Bourbeau said.
Berio said both her daughter and Michael Riley received Social Security disability benefits for mental impairments. Michael Riley told police he had bipolar disorder, and Carolyn Riley said she had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Berio said the Rileys also received Social Security benefits for their three children.
The two oldest children were also classified as mentally disabled because of their psychiatric diagnoses and received Supplemental Security Income, Berio said. But Rebecca did not receive SSI, Berio said.
Supplemental Security Income is a need-based federal program that provides monthly cash payments to people who are 65 or older, as well as blind or disabled people, including children. Dorothy Clark, a spokeswoman for the Social Security Administration, said she could not discuss benefits the Rileys received because of confidentiality rules.
A grand jury is currently hearing evidence in the case.
The Rileys are due in Hingham District Court on Tuesday for a pretrial appearance. Bourbeau said he plans to argue that Carolyn Riley should be released on bail, based on what he called inaccurate information in the police affidavit used to obtain an arrest warrant.
Rebecca Riley was found dead on the floor of her parents’ bedroom in Hull. A medical examiner ruled she died of intoxication due to the combined effects of several drugs, including: Clonidine, a blood pressure medication used to treat ADHD; Depakote, an antiseizure medication used to treat bipolar illness; cough suppressant and antihistamine. The autopsy found the amount of Clonidine alone in Rebecca’s system was fatal.
Attorneys for the Rileys say they were only following doctor’s orders in the amount and types of medications they gave their daughter. After the Rileys were charged, Kifuji agreed to stop practicing medicine until the state Board of Registration in Medicine completes an investigation. Her attorney has said she did nothing wrong and did not overprescribe medication for Rebecca.
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Comment: So who is going to charge the psychiatrist who willfully placed children on mind altering drugs without any evidence that they needed them? The system that allow such profitable abuse is so disgusting I am lost for words.