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Then, in June, New Times published an update based on evidence recently obtained by the defense: photos of the bloody letter found at the scene of the crime. Not only did it contain a social security number disguised as a phone number, as Riley had always claimed, but also the number matched that of a former Florida inmate who told New Times she'd had her identity stolen and false IRS tax returns filed in her name numerous times.
Prosecutors insisted they still had the evidence to take Riley to trial. But the New Times article prompted prosecutors to re-question King. Last month, she made a shocking confession: She had, in fact, been helping Andre Pinder — a career criminal convicted of murder, manslaughter, and escaping from prison — fill out false returns.
Last week, New Times published a second update revealing King's confession and the rapidly unraveling case against Riley. Though the boxer had spent two years in jail without bond and been subject to innumerable procedural delays, prosecutors remained steadfast.
But that changed last Friday, when the State Attorney's Office suddenly dropped all the charges. In the close-out memo, prosecutors attributed the decision to this newspaper's reporting. "The victim lied about the contents of a key piece of evidence — the blood-stained letter from a prisoner," lead prosecutor Anna Quesada wrote. "It was not until the State read a Miami New Times article, several weeks after it had been published, that [King's connection to the tax fraud] was ever brought to the State's attention."
McGhee, Riley's attorney, claims there is a federal investigation into the tax fraud ring at the correctional facility where King worked. He also hints at a lawsuit seeking compensation for the two years of boxing that Riley has missed.
"Ray Charles could have seen through [some of the evidence against Riley]," McGhee says. "Ms. King was a correctional officer, which brings an extra ingredient of [police and prosecutors] protecting their own. There may have been a rush to judgment by certain people involved in this case... An apology is owed to Mr. Riley."
Standing outside jail after his release, however, Riley has only one thought: becoming a champion. For two years, he's been shadow-boxing in his cell, imagining a bout against Chad Dawson, the current WBC light heavyweight titleholder.
"Chad Dawson and everybody that's on top better watch out, because I'm comin' for ya," Riley growls. Then, on cue, he snaps rapid-fire punches into the air. It's as if the undefeated boxer, surrounded by a cheering crowd of family, friends, and complete strangers, is already back in the ring.
"I feel bad for the first guy he fights," his brother Julius says. "You don't want to be that guy."