Man takes plea in 2017 death of son

CANTON — A Massena man who was headed to trial Monday in St. Lawrence County Court on charges related to the 2017 death of his son took a plea deal as prospective jurors were being processed.

Michael J. Riley, 31, of 9775 Route 56, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor second-degree criminal contempt as part of a deal with the district attorney’s office.

On Feb. 22, 2017, in the town of Massena, he violated a St. Lawrence County Family Court order involving his son, 5-year-old Aiden M. Riley, that he not allow any third party to consume, or be under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs not prescribed to him by a physician, or marijuana in the child’s home or wherever the child is physically present, or within 48 hours prior to being in the child’s presence.

According to Aiden’s obituary, he was on an overnight visit with his father at the time of his death. Aiden and his mother, Jordan McGregor, were residents of 169 Fayette Road, Massena.

Mr. Riley’s mother and Aiden’s grandmother, Shari L. Caza, 56, of 5779 Route 56, Apt. 1, pleaded guilty in County Court on July 24 to felony criminally negligent homicide and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child, in a plea deal with the district attorney’s office.

As part of the plea deal, Ms. Caza will be sentenced to six months in St. Lawrence County jail and five years of probation.

According to the original St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department arrest report from Sept. 18, 2017, Ms. Caza put Aiden to bed on Feb. 22 in an upstairs bedroom at the Caza residence at 2224 Route 420 and locked the bedroom door from the outside; the door could not be opened from the inside.

At 9:56 p.m. that day, first responders received a report of a structure fire with entrapment at the residence after a fire reportedly broke out in the upstairs hallway near the child’s bedroom shortly after he was put to bed.

As part of Mr. Riley’s plea deal, sentencing options will be determined by the court at the time of his Oct. 7 sentencing. On a misdemeanor, Mr. Riley could face up to a year in jail or three years of probation.

Prospective jurors had filled the county courtroom Monday morning and Mr. Riley took the plea in the jury deliberation room with his attorney, Richard V. Manning.

Originally indicted with an additional felony count of aggravated family offense, Mr. Riley had that charge dismissed against him at the time of his plea at the request of the DA’s office because prosecutors were unable to prove the charge at trial, according to a motion filed with the court.

Mr. Riley was released under probation supervision.

He had pleaded not guilty April 8 to the unsealed indictment charging him with felony aggravated family offense and misdemeanor second-degree criminal contempt.

Mr. Riley was released under electronic home monitoring by probation.

Sheriff’s deputies reported that they, along with state police, were able to remove the downstairs occupants from the home.

The Massena Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire and entered the home with air packs, locating Aiden in the upstairs bedroom. He was taken by the Massena Rescue Squad to Massena Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:38 p.m.

Ms. Caza was released under continued probation supervision and sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 30.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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