Mass. mom's conviction upheld in girl's drug deathAP , Associated Press
Sep. 20, 2013 1:53 PM ET
BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Appeals Court refused Friday to overturn the conviction of a woman found guilty of second-degree murder for overmedicating her 4-year-old daughter on powerful prescription drugs.
Carolyn Riley and her husband, Michael, were convicted in the 2006 death of their daughter, Rebecca. Michael Riley was convicted of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors said the couple concocted symptoms of mental illness in the girl in an attempt to collect disability benefits, then overmedicated her to keep her quiet and out of their way.
Defense lawyers said Rebecca died of a severe, fast-moving pneumonia, not an overdose.
Carolyn Riley's lawyers argued in her appeal that the trial judge erroneously allowed prejudicial character evidence to be admitted and allowed a forensic toxicologist to testify for prosecutors without first holding a proper hearing.
The appeals court rejected the arguments and upheld Riley's conviction.
The court found that evidence about Riley's scheme to obtain psychiatric medications for her children in order to collect disability benefits "was probative of the defendant's motive and intent for giving them unnecessary medication and for doing so regardless of the contraindications."
The court said there was "overwhelming, properly admitted evidence of her neglectful and abusive parenting."
Riley's appellate attorney, Chrystal Murray, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.