Suspect in 10-year-old killing wants case tossed
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.
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.