With the scars from the cut on his neck and the burns on his body mended, Craig Riley can heal even further now with the closure that comes from seeing his attacker plead guilty and receive a life sentence in prison.
Gabriel Scott Riley, 30, taken in as a troubled youth by Sutherlin couple Craig and Lindi Riley, and adopted as their own, pleaded guilty
Friday in Douglas County Circuit Court to murdering his mother and trying to kill his father.
During a hearing before Judge Ronald Poole, Gabriel “Gabe” Riley entered guilty pleas to one count of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder. He received a life sentence without the possibility of parole
for the murder charge and an additional 10-year sentence
for the attempted murder conviction.
Gabe Riley's 10-year-sentence will run consecutively to the life sentence, recognizing that there were two victims in the case, said District Attorney Rick Wesenberg at the press conference. The agreement allowed Riley to avoid a potential death sentence if found guilty at trial of aggravated murder, Oregon's only capital crime.
Wesenberg said Riley will never be eligible for parole or early release of any kind
“Gabriel Riley will die in prison,” said Wesenberg, who worked on the case with Senior Deputy District Attorney Deborah Stoll.
Wesenberg explained in court what transpired in the morning hours of March 10, 2008. Gabe Riley had traveled from his home in Southern California to Sutherlin that weekend to visit his father, a retired insurance agency owner who now runs a fishing lodge in Canada, and his mother, an adored counselor at Sutherlin Middle School.
The family spent the evening together, but that morning, Craig Riley awoke to find his son roaming the house, acting strangely.
Gabe Riley appeared to be leaving, and was talking on a cell phone. Craig Riley, 56 at the time, followed the man to the carport to check on him, Wesenberg said. That's when Gabe Riley attacked, coming up behind Craig and slashing his throat with a knife.
Prosecutors believe Gabe Riley then went inside, woke Lindi Riley, 57, at gunpoint, stuffed a sock in her mouth, then bound her nose and mouth with duct tape before setting the bedroom on fire.
The prosecutor said Riley then went back outside and found Craig Riley clinging to life, wrapped in a tarp. The defendant poured lighter fluid on the tarp and lit it on fire,
Wesenberg said. As Gabe Riley fled the scene, Craig Riley managed to knock the flames out, make his way into the burning home and call 911.
By the time firefighters and police arrived, Gabe Riley was on his way to Medford, where he caught a commercial airline flight back to California. He was apprehended by police after the plane landed.
Craig Riley barely survived, and spent the next several weeks in the hospital.
“We believe that the motive in this particular crime was money,” Wesenberg said, explaining that the defendant stood to inherit the Rileys' estate.
The 13 other charges against Riley, including charges filed this year stemming from accusations he tried to hire a fellow jail inmate to finish off Craig Riley, were dropped in the plea agreement.
The agreement also stipulated that prosecutors would not seek charges against Riley's wife, Ester Riley, who investigators found had been transferring money to the inmate her husband had allegedly solicited in the murder-for-hire plot.
Wesenberg said at the press conference that subsequent investigation found Ester Riley, the mother of Gabe Riley's two young children, was ignorant to her husband's schemes, and that no charges would be filed. The inmate, who revealed the plan to police, also will not be charged.