Nova Scotia

Judge irked as sentencing of convicted murderer Randy Riley delayed again

The sentencing of Randy Desmond Riley was delayed yet again because of the time it's taken to complete a cultural assessment.

'It is really irritating,' Justice James Chipman said of the delays

Randy Desmond Riley will return for sentencing on March 20. (Emma Davie/CBC)

The sentencing of Randy Desmond Riley has been delayed again because of the time it has taken to complete a cultural assessment.

Justice James Chipman voiced his frustration on Friday morning for what he called the "extreme tardiness" of the report, which was only handed in last week.

"It was a long wait for something that … you'll pardon this, but I really don't think it was worth the wait," Chipman said in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

"It is really irritating."

'Not a pleasant call'

Riley, of Dartmouth, N.S., was convicted of second-degree murder in April 2018 for the killing of Donald Chad Smith in October 2010.

While the murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence, Chipman still has to determine parole ineligibility.

Crown prosecutor Melanie Perry told the court on Friday it was "not a pleasant call" to deliver the news of the latest delay to Smith's family.

Crown prosecutor Melanie Perry said the delays have been extremely difficult on the victim's family. (Emma Davie/CBC)

In an email statement from the family, they said they've dealt with a preliminary hearing and two trials since 2012.

"It has been extremely upsetting and disappointing for us to be waiting this long to deliver our impact statements," the family said.

"We want to move on and put this court process behind us. We want to begin our journey of healing."

Years of delays

Smith was killed by a single shotgun blast to the chest on Oct. 23, 2010.

Riley and his accomplice, Nathan Johnson, placed a pizza order to where Smith was working as a delivery driver. The call was made from a pay phone near an apartment building in Dartmouth, where they attacked Smith.

Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence. He can't apply for parole for 25 years.

Riley was charged in 2013, but three trial dates were delayed as Riley parted ways with a number of lawyers.

Trevor McGuigan represented him at the trial last spring, where Riley was charged with first-degree murder. 

A jury convicted him of second-degree murder after nearly 28 hours of deliberation.

Sociologist told the court he was busy

Riley, who is African-Nova Scotian, requested the cultural assessment.

Sociologist Robert S. Wright was instructed in July to perform the assessment, which was supposed to be done by the middle of November.

But in December, Wright told the court he had been busy and hadn't even met with Riley. He promised then to have it ready by mid-January.

"Mid-January came and went and we still didn't have it," Perry said in an interview. She said after receiving it just last week, it wasn't enough time for either the Crown or the defence to review it.

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

"It's taken a long time to get this to trial and it's certainly taken a long time for the victim's family to see justice in this matter."

Perry said Smith's family was "both incredulous and devastated" at the latest delay.

"They had to go through another Christmas where they don't have their son and they don't have closure," Perry said.

"I can't express to you how difficult this has been for them."

Sentencing March 20

Riley watched Friday's proceedings by video call.

The Crown and defence now have to go through victim impact statements and decide whether or not to call witnesses.

Perry said the Crown will also be reviewing evidence that wasn't admissible at trial, but that they believe is admissible during sentencing.

The sentencing is now scheduled for March 20.

Perry said Riley also has an appeal date set sometime in May.