Sus­pect in 10-year-old killing wants case tossed

Merced Sun-Star - - Community - BY VIKAAS SHANKER vshanker@mer­ced­sun­star.com

The de­fen­dant charged with killing a Merced man 10 years ago is ask­ing a Merced County judge to dis­miss the case, claim­ing pros­e­cu­tors have lost track of an in­for­mant who told in­ves­ti­ga­tors an­other man was re­spon­si­ble for the slay­ing.

Jerome Slay­ton, 31, has pleaded not guilty to killing Michael Ri­ley, who was gunned down Oct. 7, 2008, in the 1100 block of Lough­bor­ough Drive out­side the Vil­lage Mead­ows Apart­ments, spark­ing a decade-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion that re­sulted in Slay­ton’s ar­rest on July 19.

Merced County Judge Ron­ald Hansen or­dered Slay­ton to stand trial dur­ing an Aug. 29 pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing.

Slay­ton’s at­tor­ney plans to ar­gue that due-process rights were vi­o­lated and the case should be thrown out, ac­cord­ing to a mo­tion filed Tues­day in Merced County Su­pe­rior Court.

Slay­ton’s at­tor­ney, Merced County Deputy Pub­lic De­fender Ram­nik Sam­rao, said they be­lieve pros­e­cu­tors didn’t do enough to lo­cate and keep in touch with a con­fi­den­tial in­for­mant.

Pros­e­cu­tors say they gave Slay­ton’s de­fense the name of the con­fi­den­tial in­for­mant but haven’t been able to find the in­for­mant.

“We did in­form the de­fense,” Merced County Su­per­vis­ing Deputy District At­tor­ney Rob Car­roll said. He ac­knowl­edged in­ves­ti­ga­tors don’t know where the in­for­mant is.

“We’re try­ing to find the in­for­mant, but it’s not al­ways easy to lo­cate some­body af­ter many years,” he said, not­ing there were year-long gaps in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. “The mur­der oc­curred in 2008, but we just filed the case this year.”

A day af­ter the shoot­ing, the in­for­mant told for­mer Merced Po­lice Of­fi­cer Joseph Hen­der­son that an­other sus­pect and the sus­pect’s girl­friend “set up Ri­ley” and killed him, ac­cord­ing to in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­ports.

On Oct. 24, Hen­der­son tes­ti­fied dur­ing cros­sex­am­i­na­tion that the wit­ness was “def­i­nitely” re­li­able, enough to au­thor and have a judge sign off on a search warrant for the sus­pect’s home.

Over the course of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, au­thor­i­ties pur­sued Slay­ton af­ter an­other wit­ness claimed to be at the scene of the shoot­ing and placed Slay­ton at the scene.

Hen­der­son said he didn’t know where the in­for­mant was, stat­ing the last con­tact hap­pened many years ago.

“The of­fi­cer must have be­lieved the in­for­mant,” Sam­rao said. “But we’re now de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to (in­ter­view the in­for­mant) be­cause law en­force­ment didn’t keep in touch.”

Sam­rao claimed that de­nies his client his right to due process.

Car­roll said pros­e­cu­tors are re­view­ing the mo­tion to dis­miss, which will be dis­cussed dur­ing a pre­trial hear­ing Tues­day.

AN­DREW KUHN akuhn@mer­ced­sun-star.com

Merced res­i­dent Mary­lene Ri­ley holds pho­tos of her two sons Michael, left and Marlis, right, at the ceme­tery where her two sons are buried in Merced, Calif., on July 20. The Merced Po­lice De­part­ment an­nounced that an ar­rest has been made for the 2008 mur­der of Michael Ri­ley.

Jerome Slay­ton

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