Two years ago, Yathomas Riley was an undefeated, up-and-coming boxer from Florida City. But when his girlfriend — a prison guard named Koketia King — was shot in the face June 10, 2010, Riley was arrested and charged with attempted murder.
Riley told cops that King had tried to kill herself after he discovered letters proving she was involved in a tax fraud scheme with inmates. Prosecutors didn't buy his story. King recovered from her wounds to testify against him, and Riley has sat in jail awaiting trial ever since.
Last month, however, New Times published evidence supporting Riley's claims: A bloody letter addressed to King found at the crime scene, we discovered, indeed contained a social security number disguised as a phone number.
Now the article has prompted prosecutors to question King. She made a shocking confession under oath: King had, in fact, been helping Andre Pinder — a career criminal convicted of murder, manslaughter, and escaping from prison — fill out false tax returns. The revelation has given Riley and his family hope that his case will be dropped. But it has also infuriated them over what they say are serious errors by prosecutors.
"Every day there is a chance that he could get out," says Lisa Amodio, Riley's fiancée.
Adds Kionne McGhee, Riley's attorney: "Koketia has given about five different versions of the story... She lied. As a result, the wrong man is in jail."
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Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office, credits New Times for exposing King's scheme but denies any missteps by prosecutors. "If our victim fails the honesty test, that is certainly a hindrance in a prosecution. It can often be a fatal hindrance," he admits. "However, if the physical evidence supports a theory of the shooting being done by another person, then another person appears to have done it."
But, as Amodio points out, Riley told police about the letter and the fraud when he was arrested. Miami-Dade detectives never looked into it. And when prosecutors brought the bloody letter to court, they skipped over the social security number.
"For the prosecutor to say that she didn't know it was a social security number [in the letter] just flat out insults everybody's intelligence," Amodio says.
Over the phone from the Metro West Detention Center, Riley is equally frustrated. "I told them what happened and they still put me in jail. That's crazy," he says. "I already knew [King] was lying. But they didn't believe me. Now I'm still stuck in here when I could have been boxing."