Friday, April 08, 2005

Part 2: the story of William David Riley

As told by Brian Bowler of New Zealand:

At approximately 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2000, a fire broke out in a trailer at Pine Valley Mobile Home park. The trailer was rented by Bill who lived there with his girlfriend and the three children, Ashley aged 6, William aged 5 and Samantha aged three. A friend of Bill's was also living there and sleeping on a couch. All three adults escaped, all three children died.

Neighbors reported that during the fire Bill seemed unemotional, cold and dry. In reality he was in shock, traumatized and incapable of reacting. Not thinking logically and in a frenzy he began banging on the trailer walls and yelling to his children. His car was parked close to the trailer and fearing that it might explode and add to the danger he moved it away. He threw a piece of timber though one of the windows. All this was irrational, but Bill was not in a rational frame of mind.

You may very well think that given the same circumstances you would have reacted differently, but in the grip of shock the mind can freeze.

Neighbors reported that there were arguments prior to the fire between Bill and his girlfriend, and this is not an issue. Bill was having serious financial hardship and with the girlfriend not helping to economize it led to disagreements. The alleged threats to kill the children have to take into account the circumstances in which they were made, the tone of voice etc. Saying that he would see them dead before he would let the Department of Family and Children Service take them, can be construed not so much as a threat to kill them but an indication of how much he cared for them.

The expressed intention to burn the trailer rather than face eviction, even if taken seriously, does not imply an intention to burn the children. In truth the statement was a throw away remark intended to mean nothing more than that he would resist attempts to evict him.


Anonymous said...

I sat through this trial and listened to this "man" admit that he set his trailer on fire on purpose. I also had to look at photographs of the three charred bodies of his innocent children. The testimony of experts was that the fire started in the children's bedroom. The defendant was not in shock. The room was so small that he literally could have reached in the childrens' room from the door and reached them. This defendant was not in shock. The actual testimony that was while one of his daughters sreamed "Daddy, daddy, daddy" William Riley sat on a hill and watched the trailer burn. While neighbors tried to save his children, William Riley did not have a single burn or singed hair on his body. This person is NOT the poster child for abolishing the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

I get sick of all these death row inmates clamoring that they are not guilty. They can explain away the most damning evidence...amazing what years of nothing else to do can do for an alibi...or an excuse.

I'm against the death penalty. But face it: most of the people on death row are guilty of their crimes.

I wish more of them would (or could) admit what they did and be truly contrite. That would make it a lot easier for me personally to maintain my position against the death penalty.

winterhawk said...


How you know william was not in shock. do you know how you feel, react, when something bad happens, and why no namee, what are you afraid for?
William saved my live, and I know how he misses his children, why judging if you don t know what realy happened?
Talk to William, then you know the truth


Anonymous said...

The evidence was clear. The trial was fair, and the result was just. Those who comment on this case without a thorough review of the evidence make grave errors in their assessment of the trial and our judicial system. The decision to prosecute a case like this is not cavalier. In this case, the decision was made after a tedious and cautious review of the evidence.

Anonymous said...

William talked enough.