Editor's note: This article has been revised to reflect the following correction, which will appear in Friday's print edition. Katrina Denise Ledford's jury selection is scheduled for Tuesday, and her trial is scheduled for July 8, in the killing of her mother's husband, Michael Anthony Riley. A front-page article Thursday incorrectly stated that those were the dates for another co-defendant in the case.
Antoinette Braddy Riley pleaded guilty Wednesday in the June 30, 2013, killing of her husband, Michael Anthony Riley, 51, 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.
At the plea hearing, Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Daphne Totten presented some, but not all, of the evidence that would have been presented had Riley chosen to go to trial.
Riley testified that her daughter, Katrina Denise 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.
Ledford 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.
When 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. 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." She also testified that the couple 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.'"
Totten then questioned Riley about a text she said Momom sent to Ledford at 7:49 p.m. June 29, 2013 — less than 12 hours before Michael Riley was killed. Momom had started referring to Antoinette Riley as "mom" in his texts.
"I'm waiting on their callback now, mom," Totten told the court the text message said. "I just got off the line with them. They will let me know something tonight. They're on another hit."
Totten read another text she said Momom sent to Riley at 9:34 p.m. the night before Michael Riley was killed: "Please try to stay up a little. I'm going to call you on the line."
When Totten asked Antoinette Riley what she understood that to mean, Riley said it meant Momom would call her soon and that "they" — the "gangsters" as she said Momom called them - would be there that night to "deal with" her husband.
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."
"I was scared," Riley said. "I covered my head and I got under the bed."
Riley said she couldn't be sure how many people were in the house because she was in her own bedroom and her husband was in the master bedroom. 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 that 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. "I never talked about that with him or with Katrina (Ledford)."
Momom, Ledford, Terrance Ray Griswould, 28, of Augusta, and Travis Lorenzo Berrian, 29, of Augusta, along with Antoinette Riley, were each charged with murder in Michael Riley's death.
Berrian was shot and killed after he shot and wounded a probation officer as probation officers tried to arrest him in Augusta in July.
Totten said prosecutors have offered Ledford a plea bargain, but it was unclear Wednesday whether Ledford's attorney had accepted it after having a chance to review it.
Jury selection for Ledford is scheduled for Tuesday, and her trial is scheduled for July 8. She, Momom and Griswould have pleaded not guilty.
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.