Prosecutors believe the parents accused of fatally overdosing their 4-year-old daughte with prescription medications killed the girl because she was not earning them as much in government benefits as her two older siblings, the mother's defense lawyer said Monday.
Attorney Michael Bourbeau told The Associated Press that a prosecutor had outlined for him this motive, which the defense lawyer dismissed.
"It is totally insane, if not just simply sick. It's a sick theory," Bourbeau said.
Carolyn and Michael Riley, of Hull, Massachusetts, are charged with murder in the Dec. 13 death of their daughter, Rebecca from what prosecutors have called an "intentional overdose." A grand jury is hearing evidence in the case.
Prosecutors have declined to publicly discuss a motive. According to a state police investigator's report, witnesses told police the Rileys gave their daughter large doses of powerful prescription drugs to keep her quiet and sleeping for long periods of time.
Assistant District Attorney Frank Middleton did not return a call seeking comment. A spokeswoman for his boss, District Attorney Timothy Cruz, declined comment.
The Rileys' two older children, now ages 11 and 6, had gone to a psychiatrist and been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and were receiving benefits from the federal government because they were classified as mentally disabled, according to Carolyn Riley's mother, Valerie Berio.
Carolyn Riley told police the same psychiatrist had diagnosed Rebecca with the same illnesses when she was 2Ѕ. But for some unknown reason, Rebecca was not eligible to receive the same benefits, Bourbeau said.
Bourbeau, Carolyn Riley's lawyer, said that Middleton told him prosecutors believe the Rileys sent Rebecca to a psychiatrist in order to get drugs and have her placed on disability to become eligible for government benefits.
Middleton told him that "when Rebecca wasn't bringing in any money, they killed her," Bourbeau said.
Berio said both her daughter and her husband also received disability benefits from the federal government for mental impairments.
The Rileys are due in Hingham District Court on Tuesday for a pretrial appearance. Bourbeau said he plans to argue that Carolyn Riley should be released on bail based on what he called inaccurate information used by police to obtain an arrest warrant, reports AP.
Rebecca Riley was found dead on the floor of her parents' bedroom in Hull. A medical examiner ruled she died of intoxication due to the combined effects of Clonidine, a blood pressure medication used to treat ADHD; Depakote, an antiseizure medication used to treat bipolar illness; cough suppressant and antihistamine.
Attorneys for the Rileys say they were only following doctor's orders in the amount and types of medications they gave their daughter.
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