Laconia murder suspect’s attorney fights for access to arrest affidavit
An attorney for the Laconia teen charged with strangling a man to death argued yesterday for access to a sealed arrest affidavit, saying it violates Kasey Riley’s rights to hold him without bail but not to provide information about the case against him.
Riley, 19, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Zachary March, who was found unconscious early Monday inside a Laconia facility for the mentally ill where they both lived. No new details were given at Riley’s arraignment yesterday in Laconia’s district court, where an arrest affidavit is sealed from both the public and Riley’s attorney.
Public defender Jesse Friedman called it unconstitutional for the state to keep “secret information” while Riley is being held without bail. He argued that law requires the prosecutors to cite a particular reason why a defendant shouldn’t be provided with an affidavit, and he said he couldn’t imagine what that justification would be considering that Riley is already in custody.
“The state holds the keys,” he said. “They choose when to arrest. They chose to arrest. We’re in this position. And I need this information so I can properly, adequately and zealously defend Mr. Riley’s constitutional rights.”
Prosecutor Geoffrey Ward of the state attorney general’s office assured the judge there is a valid reason to keep the information private but said he wouldn’t discuss it in public.
“In terms of the particularized showing the defense counsel suggests, because this information is sealed, I’m not going to get into any of that information at this point,” he said. “If the court wants to hear it, I’d be happy to meet with the court . . . in chambers.”
Judge James Carroll decided to give Ward until noon tomorrow to object to Friedman’s motion for access. The judge said he would issue an order by tomorrow afternoon.
Several of March’s family members sat in the front row of the courtroom yesterday as Riley was arraigned by video feed from Belknap County jail, where he is being held. The family declined to comment.
As the judge heard arguments about the affidavit, Riley stared forward, his arms still and at his sides, his mouth slightly open and head tilted to the right.
Riley has been charged with reckless second-degree murder, indicating officials don’t believe the crime was premeditated but do think he was aware of a substantial risk and acted regardless. Ward wouldn’t comment on what officials think motivated the attack.
Officials say March was found dead at 24 McGrath St. at 1:42 a.m. Monday. The building, operated by Genesis Behavioral Health, is an independent living community for people who have experienced homelessness, according to a spokeswoman from the organization. She said the residence consists of four apartments, one of which is used for communal living by several individuals.
Friedman argued yesterday that access to the affidavit be granted only to himself and the other defense attorney. The Monitor has filed a request that the affidavit be unsealed for public view.
A probable cause hearing, where a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for the case to be presented to a Belknap County grand jury, is scheduled for Tuesday.