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Augusta man convicted in 26-year-old cold case

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 6:17 PM
Last updated Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 10:41 AM
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It was a single fingerprint, and only a partial one at that, but it was enough Wednesday for a jury to convict Jimmy Lee Riley of murder in a 26-year-old cold case.

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Riley left the fingerprint in Pauline McCoy’s blood as he grabbed the win­dow ledge to crawl out of the tiny Golden Rod Street house, leaving the 87-year-old naked and dead, As­sistant District Attorney Falin Syms told the jury in her closing statement.

In sentencing Riley, 53, to the maximum possible, Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. said he couldn’t think of another case where a victim was subjected to such torture.

Syms told the jury that Riley’s partial print was enough for a conviction.

“There is no reasonable explanation for his fingerprint to be in blood on the outside of her house,” Syms said.

If McCoy had been killed recently, chances are Riley would have been identi­fied immediately, because the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab would have told local detectives that the results were inconclusive and it needed a better set of Riley’s fingerprints to compare.

In the 1980s the GBI policy was to report either negative or positive. The GBI told detectives Riley’s comparison was negative and he was struck from the suspect list.

McCoy was murdered sometime after 9 p.m. Dec. 20, 1986. That night, she had told a neighbor that she might not make it to church the next morning because she wasn’t feeling well. McCoy told her friend that if she couldn’t make it she would drop off her church donation for her friend to take to church.

Riley stabbed McCoy at least 15 times. He strangled, beat and kicked the slender woman who was an inch shy of being 5 feet tall.

The Richmond County Superior Court jury deliberated just more than an hour before convicting Riley of murder, burglary and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime.

Given the chance to leave the courthouse early for the first time all week, jurors returned to watch as Brown sentenced Riley to life in prison for murder, and 25 more years for burglary and the weapon crime.

Dennis Dunbar was also there for the sentencing.

“I’ve waited almost 27 years of my life for this day, for justice to be spoken for my grandmother,” said Dunbar, who testified this week, identifying his grandmother in a photograph taken during her life and one taken after her brutal death. He cried as the medical examiner described her injuries.

"She was the person who shaped my character," Dunbar had said on the witness stand Tuesday.

Wednesday as he left the courtroom, he came face to face with Riley’s mother. He took her hand and spoke kindly.

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AutumnLeaves 10/23/13 - 08:28 pm
I'm sure Riley's mother was

I'm sure Riley's mother was touched by Mr. Dunbar's compassionate gesture. And that Mr. Dunbar is thankful that justice is served and appreciates the dedication of the persons that worked so hard to solve this cold case. They are not the type that looks for accolades. They come up with new ideas, research old evidence with new, sometimes innovative technology that they come up with themselves, and do the work it takes to solve old mysteries. God bless them!

deestafford 10/23/13 - 06:40 pm
I think it's fantastic that the detective who solved this cold

case did such a super job and should be appropriately recognized. His name was mentioned in yesterday's story. Too bad he was not mentioned and given the credit he deserved in this article. I'm sure this was an oversight and will be corrected if any future ones are written.

jmo 10/23/13 - 06:45 pm
He had.....

27 of freedom that he should not had.

leebraxjr 10/23/13 - 07:23 pm
Justice Done

I am just glad this beautiful woman's soul can finally rest.

myfather15 10/24/13 - 05:41 am
This woman's soul was

This woman's soul was resting, long before this conviction. When you leave this flesh body and go home to the Father, ALL cares of this world are forgotten. They just don't have the same weight, because now you SEE with your own eyes; what you've had faith in, for so long. You know that God is in control and although bad things will happen, in the end, all will be just fine!! You also don't look at death the same anymore, because you now see death of the flesh as God sees it; which is not death at all. You've never been more alive. You simply go from one place to the other and a much better place. This flesh life is so temporary for all of us, it's gone in a flash. Just ask your grandparents; they will tell you it seems like yesterday they were young and vibrant.

nocnoc 10/24/13 - 08:06 am
WOW - what happen to several comments?

What happen to several comments, Or is this being treated as a NEW story because of the conviction.

Minus the related interesting fact that Austin Rhodes brought up.
This Murder case file was one of the pile left behind in that Apt. the Roundtree was evicted from, and almost tossed in the trash.

Sean Moores
Sean Moores 10/24/13 - 10:25 am
New story

Yes this is a a new story about the outcome of the trial. the older story is here:

Marinerman1 10/24/13 - 11:47 am
Correct verdict, but WRONG

Correct verdict, but WRONG sentence...!!

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