In the second day of Carolyn Riley’s murder trial, prosecutors put on witness after witness who described the little girl’s lethargy and weakness in the months before she died in 2006.
On the second day of Carolyn Riley’s murder trial, defense lawyers tried to show that teachers and staff at her daughter Rebecca’s school made no official reports of problems or abuse in the months before the 4-year-old girl died.
But prosecutors in the Plymouth Superior Court trial called witness after witness who described the little girl’s lethargy, tremors and weakness – and her parents’ seeming lack of grief after her death.
Victoria Silberstein, the principal of Weymouth’s Elden Johnson Early Childhood Center, said that on the day Rebecca died in 2006, Michael and Carolyn Riley “laughed and walked away” outside the school after meeting with her and other staff.
Silberstein said she watched from a window as Michael Riley playfully put a cowboy hat on Carolyn Riley’s head.
Kimberly Stetz, an adjustment counselor at Adams Middle School, said that the day after Rebecca died, the Rileys came to the school to ask for receipts for holiday gift cards that Stetz had provided from a local church.
Rebecca’s older brother attended Adams. Stetz said Carolyn Riley said her half-brother had stolen the gift cards from their house in Hull.
“There were no tears,” Stetz said of the encounter. “Not much emotion at all.”
Rebecca died on Dec. 13, 2006. In February 2007, her parents were charged with first-degree murder after, prosecutors allege, they killed her with an overdose of the drug clonidine, which a psychiatrist had prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Rebecca was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder when she was 2. She was also prescribed Depakote for the bipolar disorder.
The Rileys are being tried separately. They say Rebecca died of pneumonia and that they were following the psychiatrist’s instructions.
Defense lawyers Michael Bourbeau and Victoria Bonilla asked Stetz and others why Rebecca’s permanent record contained no notes of concern and why they hadn’t tried to discuss their worries with Carolyn Riley or the psychiatrist, Dr. Kayoko Kifuji.
Rebecca’s second teacher, Jym-Ann Curtis, said she did leave numerous phone messages in early 2006, but never got a response. She and Rebecca’s first teacher, Kathleen Yuscevicz, said Carolyn Riley didn’t respond to their written notes, either.
Yuscevicz said she took Rebecca to the school nurse “at least once a week.”
Silberstein said she tried to file a so-called “51-A” abuse report with the state Department of Social Services in the spring of 2006, after she had to carry Rebecca from the bus into school in her arms. But she said DSS told her the agency couldn’t investigate because the girl was in the care of a doctor.
Reach Lane Lambert at email@example.com.