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Sister: Alleged Laconia killer just got out of hospital

New Hamsphire Union Leader

June 11. 2013 9:45PM
Kasey Riley, 19, raises his right hand during a video arraignment Tuesday on a second-degree murder charge. Beside him is public defender John Breshaw. In the courtroom are homicide prosecutors Geoffrey Ward, right, and Jay McCormack. (MARK HAYWARD /UNION LEADER)

LACONIA — Two sides of Kasey Riley, the 19-year-old resident of a supportive housing program for the mentally ill, have emerged since Monday, the day he was accused of strangling a fellow resident of the Laconia building where he lived.

On Tuesday, his sister released a statement portraying him as a victim of the state’s revolving door system for the mentally ill. He was admitted to New Hampshire State Hospital after a two-day wait at Lakes Region General Hospital, only to be released the following day from the state hospital.

“There was no indication that he was dangerous or was going to hurt anyone,” she said about conversations she had with her brother over the weekend.

Another picture of Riley emerges from his two Facebook pages. In one, the young man uses a confederate flag as his cover photo and says he studied at Redneck University. His posts include slurs against President Obama and gays. And one image shows him posing while holding a long gun.

On June 2, Riley posted on both pages that he is apparently going to be a father.

He was arraigned at Laconia District Court on Tuesday via a video hookup at the Belknap County Jail. When asked by Judge James Carroll, Riley raised his right hand and swore to tell the truth. He otherwise stayed silent while Carroll discussed bail and lawyers argued about how soon his defense lawyer would receive details about the charges against him.

Riley is charged with second-degree murder in the Monday death of Zachary March, 27, a fellow resident at 24 McGrath St. Genesis Behavioral Health, a community mental health organization, maintains the eight-unit structure as permanent, supportive housing for people with mental or emotional challenges.

Riley was ordered held without bail until June 18, when a probable cause hearing is scheduled.

“It’s a really sad situation,” said his public defender, Jesse Friedman, after the hearing. He would not discuss the facts of the case, but said his condolences are to the March family.

The statement by Riley’s sister was released through the National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire, an organization at the forefront of efforts to improve the state’s system for treatment of mentally ill residents.

In it, Riley pleads with the state to increase funding and staff for mental health.

She said Kasey Riley has struggled with mental illness his entire life and worked with agencies that treat mental illness.

Last Tuesday, he sought help at Lakes Region General Hospital, where he waited for a bed to open up at the New Hampshire State Hospital. He was taken there Thursday afternoon.

“I went to visit him around 4:30 on Thursday and was concerned that my brother appeared disheveled,” she wrote. Riley was released Friday, and his sister said she does not know the reasons for his release, but he seemed well over the weekend.

“I spoke to him at 9 p.m. Sunday evening and he told me he had a good day at the beach and was headed home,” his sister wrote.

State health officials said confidentiality laws prevent them from discussing whether Riley was a patient at the state hospital.

The Department of Health and Human Services said a patient is admitted to the hospital if his mental condition would pose a likelihood of danger to himself or others. Once a treatment team deems the person no longer needs inpatient care, he is discharged to a community mental health center, the statement said.

“In circumstance such as this, while law enforcement conducts its investigation into the death, the Department conducts a sentinel review of the facility and the event,” the statement reads. The investigation is warranted because the facility receives funding through the state, the statement said.

The eight-unit McGrath Street house is one of two permanent, supportive housing programs provided by Genesis Behavioral Health, which provides services in Belknap and southern Grafton counties.

It does not provide round-the-clock staff at the home. Genesis staff visit the location often during normal working hours.

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