Nova Scotia

Randy Riley found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in Dartmouth death

Randy Desmond Riley has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Donald Chad Smith, a week after another man took the stand and admitted to the killing.

Randy Desmond Riley, 27, convicted of killing Donald Chad Smith as he delivered pizza

A jury at Nova Scotia Supreme Court heard that Donald Chad Smith, a father of two, was delivering pizza to an apartment building on Joseph Young Street when he was killed by a single gunshot. (Robert Short/CBC)

A Dartmouth, N.S., man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Donald Chad Smith, even after a Crown witness told a Halifax jury that he himself had pulled the trigger and acted alone.

Randy Desmond Riley, 27, had pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge in the death of Smith and for a weapons charge related to a sawed-off shotgun.

On Monday afternoon, a jury acquitted Riley of first-degree murder but found him guilty of second-degree murder. He was also found guilty of the firearm possession charge.

Crown lawyer Melanie Perry said Smith's family is "thrilled" with the verdict. 

"It's always stressful waiting for the jury to come back, but we're thrilled that they were so considered in their decision making and they took the time that they needed to come to an appropriate verdict," she said.

A conviction of second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence. Although Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice James Chipman will decide Riley's parole eligibility, he will consider recommendations from the jurors. One juror recommended that Riley not be eligible for parole for 10 years, while two recommended 15 years and one chose 20 years.

As Riley left the courtroom after the verdict, he blew a kiss to his family and supporters, who told him to stay strong.

Riley has been on trial since March 26.

The jury heard during Riley's that Smith, a father of two, was delivering pizza to an apartment building in Dartmouth's Highfield Park when he was killed by a single gunshot on Oct. 23, 2010.

Donald Chad Smith was shot to death in Dartmouth on Oct. 23, 2010. (Department of Justice)

The Crown alleged the killing was the result of a long-standing grudge after an apparent beating years earlier.

Crown prosecutor Melanie Perry said Smith was found lying on his back on Joseph Young Street with a gunshot wound on his upper right side.

Surprise testimony

Midway through the trial, Nathan Johnson testified he alone killed Smith. He had been charged along with Riley and found guilty of first-degree murder at an earlier trial. That information had previously been sealed from the jury. 

After Johnson's surprising testimony, Chipman permitted the Crown to tell the jury Johnson had previously been convicted of Smith's death and wasn't able to appeal that conviction.

Riley wasn't arrested and charged until the summer of 2013.

Three previous trial dates had been set for Riley, who had had difficulty securing a lawyer to represent him.

The jury started deliberating Thursday evening. A sentencing date will be set on May 10.

With files from Blair Rhodes