Accused murderer in Sunset could face death penalty

Credit: St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office

The second of likely many court dates for Harrison Lee Riley, who is accused of killing two people in Sunset including a police officer, has been slated for 9:30 a.m. Sept. 23 at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse.

The defense and prosecution will meet for the second time after addressing motions Friday filed by Riley’s attorney, Christine Lehmann, to preserve the crime scene for the defense to examine.

Crime scene investigators with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office completed their work Thursday at the Sunset Mini Food Mart, into which Riley drove a stolen car, and the home on Anna Street, where, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says, he killed Shameka Johnson and officer Henry Nelson.

The Louisiana Department of Corrections has custody of Riley, Guidroz said. But he wouldn’t be more specific, he said, for security reasons.

“He’s just not in St. Landry Parish,” Guidroz said.

Investigators with the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, which is defending Riley, planned this week to comb the crime scenes, allowing property owners to go in and out of the structures. The center, based in New Orleans, represents people in Louisiana facing the death penalty.

Lehmann filed several motions for the Sept. 23 hearing, including an order to record considerations made by grand jury and for disclosure of evidence, a clerk with the St. Landry Parish Courthouse said Wednesday.

CPAC Director Richard Bourke declined to comment on the case.

Riley could eventually be charged with first- or second-degree murder, Lafayette attorney Alfred Boustany said. If charged with first-degree murder, the only possible sentences are life in prison without parole or execution.

Riley is currently charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder, obstruction of justice and two counts of aggravated criminal damage to property after driving a stolen vehicle through the front of a store occupied by two people.

The obstruction of justice charge stems from a fire inside the store room of the Sunset Mini Mart after Riley was apprehended. Police said Friday they believe Riley started the fire.

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