Three Years After Boxer Yathomas Riley Was Cleared in One Shooting, He's Tied to Another

Yathomas Riley always said he was innocent. In 2010, after Koketia King, Riley's on-again, off-again girlfriend, was shot in the head, Riley adamantly maintained King had shot herself in a jealous rage. But King claimed it was Riley who pulled the trigger, and eventually the professional boxer was charged with attempted murder and held in jail. Nearly two years later, after New Times reported about evidence that cast doubt on the case against Riley, investigators re-examined the shooting, and the charges against the boxer were dropped.

But now Riley is tied to another suspicious shooting. Around 8:30 last Friday morning, the boxer, now living in Lee County, Georgia, called 911 to report that his wife Lisa, who worked in a local hospital as an emergency room physician, was unresponsive. Authorities pronounced her dead. At the scene, Riley was arrested on charges related to a prior domestic assault against Lisa, and Georgia authorities are investigating the death. 

"What we’re doing right now is keeping an open mind," Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Mike Walsingham told New Times, "and conducting a thorough investigation of the incident." 

Riley grew up in a poor area of Florida City and played basketball before turning to boxing at 21. In the ring, he ascended rapidly, with a dominant left hook, and by 2006 was an amateur national titleholder and a U.S. Olympic team hopeful. He moved to the Bronx and met a doctor named Lisa; the two began dating, but, as New Times reported in 2012, Riley also maintained a relationship with King, a Florida City corrections officer. When the boxer was back in Florida City, he stayed with her, and Riley and King had a son in 2007. On June 10, 2010, it was Riley, sobbing, who called the police around midnight. On the phone, he told police that King had shot herself. When paramedics arrived, they found the young woman bleeding profusely and clutching the couple's young son. After a surprising recovery, she told authorities it was Riley who had pulled the trigger after an argument, shooting her three times. 

Riley was held for nearly two years without ever facing trial. In August 2012, on the eve of his release — and after an extended "Free Riley" campaign — the boxer was elated. "I got my life back and my future back and my family back," he told New Times. "Justice has been served." 

The boxer moved to Georgia and opened his own boxing gym. He married Lisa, and the two bought a house in the small town of Leesburg, near Albany. Walsingham, the Georgia investigator, said the agency is aware of the prior incident. As of Monday, he said, the crime scene at the couple's home was still open, and the investigation was expected to take weeks. He told New Times an autopsy confirmed Lisa died of a gunshot wound to the head, although the "manner of death" — namely, whether it was a homicide or suicide — was still under investigation.
"At this point in time, we're not ready to make a determination," he told New Times. "We’re definitely going to do a thorough investigation." 

In the meantime, Riley is being held at the Lee County jail for the other charge. The phone number listed for Riley's Boxing Gym appeared to be disconnected. A message left at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, where Lisa worked, went unreturned.

Update: On Monday, July 20, Riley was charged with killing his wife. While the investigation remains ongoing, a Lee County magistrate judge issued warrants charging him with murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault related to Lisa's death, the Albany Herald reported

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Trevor Bach

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