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2nd defendant pleads in 2013 murder of Statesboro man

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Posted: July 7, 2014 8:37 p.m.
Updated: July 7, 2014 8:28 p.m.
2nd defendant pleads in 2013 murder of Statesboro man

Travis Lorenzo Berrian


A woman charged in the "hit style" murder of her mother's husband has accepted a plea bargain.

Katrina Denise Ledford was slated for trial today in the killing of her mother's husband, Michael Anthony Riley, but entered a guilty plea Thursday, according to records from the Bulloch County Clerk of Courts' office.

While neither Ledford nor her mother, Antoinette Braddy Riley, actually shot Michael Riley, they admittedly were involved in hiring others to kill him, according to Antoinette Riley's testimony last week during her guilty plea hearing.

Riley pleaded guilty Wednesday in the June 30, 2013, killing of her 51-year-old husband in their Greenbriar Trail home, even though she did not actually pull the trigger.

Under a plea bargain, Antoinette Riley, 49, will serve life in prison with the possibility of parole for the murder charge, and a charge of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime was dropped. She also agreed to testify should any of the surviving co-defendants in the murder case go to trial.

Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Daphne Jarriel Totten was out of the office Monday, and details on Ledford's sentence were unavailable.

During Riley's hearing last week, Totten presented evidence that would have been disclosed had Riley been tried. Riley testified that Ledford, 29, of Davisboro, was a guard at Washington State Prison in that town when Tarell Momom, 34, was an inmate there. Momom has been incarcerated since 1996 on charges of kidnapping and other serious crimes, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections website. He is also charged in Michael Anthony Riley's murder, despite having been in prison at the time.

Antoinette Riley said her daughter was fired in the fall of 2012 and was not supposed to be allowed access to any Georgia prison for visitation, but she appeared on the "preferred visitor" list thanks to an employee's compromised password, Totten told the court.

Ledford befriended and became romantically involved with Momom as she visited him. Momom was transferred to Dooly State Prison in Unadilla, Ledford continued to visit him there, and they maintained a dating relationship, Totten said.

In late May or early June 2013, Ledford introduced her mother to Momom via a three-way phone conversation, Riley testified, because Ledford wanted her mother to know her boyfriend. Momom had a cellphone, even though prison inmates are not supposed to have the contraband. While Riley said she found that odd, she never questioned it.
Eventually, Riley and Momom got to talking, or texting, about having her husband "handled" or "dealt with," according to testimony.

When Totten asked Riley whether she understood that Momom would arrange for her husband to be killed, she responded, "My understanding was they were going to intimidate him, rough him up, like he had done to me," claiming she and her husband had marital problems.

Riley said she sent Momom text messages revealing her exact Greenbriar Trail address, a description of her husband's vehicle and pictures of her husband and the vehicle. She also let Momom know that on the night he would send someone to her house to "deal with" her husband, she would leave the back door and garage door unlocked to allow access.

"I sent him a picture" of her husband, Riley said. "I sent him a text: ‘This who need to be dealt with.'"

Texts between Antoinette Riley and Momom included reference to another "hit" in which other suspects were involved around the same time, Totten said. Others charged in the murder are Terrance Ray Griswould, 28, of Augusta, and Travis Lorenzo Berrian, 29, of Augusta. Berrian was shot and killed after he shot and wounded a probation officer as probation officers tried to arrest him in Augusta in July 2013.

At 6:30 a.m. June 30, 2013, Totten said Momom sent a text to Riley asking, "They in?" Totten said Riley responded: "They shot him." She testified that she never saw who shot her husband.

Totten said Momom asked Riley to wait about 30 minutes after "they" left her house before she called police to report what happened. Riley said she recalled walking into the master bedroom and seeing her husband lying on the bed and that he "looked dead."

Riley, who said she had been a licensed practical nurse for 19 years, said she couldn't recall the exact sequence but that she called 911 to report her husband was dead and that she checked for a pulse on his neck and wrists and didn't feel a pulse.

Totten asked Riley why Momom — a man she had never met in person — would agree to "deal with" her husband. Riley testified that he had never asked her for money or anything of value.

"I have no idea," Riley responded to Totten's question.

Momom and Griswould have pleaded not guilty. Their hearing dates have not yet been set.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

 

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