News 4 Investigates finds prosecutors agreed to put man on bond despite circuit attorney’s claims

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 9:12 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2023 at 11:43 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office claimed it tried to revoke bond three times from Daniel Riley, who violated his bond conditions more than 100 times before causing a crash Downtown that critically injured a teenage girl. The case is causing a lot of confusion which News 4 Investigates is getting to the bottom of.

Riley was out on bond in connection to a 2020 armed robbery case.

News 4 reviewed transcripts from two hearings in Riley’s armed robbery case, which show prosecutors agreed to put him on bond with a GPS tracker and even asked for that bond in one of the hearings. During a press conference Thursday, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner maintained her office verbally requested to have Riley’s bond revoked during court proceedings. Gardner’s has not provided records showing that.

News 4 also learned there is another defendant in the armed robbery case who recently walked free due to a mistake made by prosecutors. Defense lawyer Raphael Morris said the Circuit Attorney’s Office wrongly told him and his client that the victim was dead, which led to the case being dismissed.

Morris represents Elijah Graham, who was charged in the same August 2020 armed robbery that Riley was out on bond for. Graham’s case was set for trial on Tuesday.

“I asked the prosecutor on the case if they were going to be prepared for trial,” Morris said. “I was informed at that point the victim in Elijah’s case has passed away, and the case was not going to proceed.”

Morris claimed that conversation happened sometime last week. He said he and his client showed up in court on Tuesday, where he filed a motion to have the case dismissed. He marked, “victim is deceased” on the motion.

Retired St. Louis Police Sgt. Jim Dandridge told News 4 his son is the victim in the armed robbery case, and he is alive.

“For them to make simple errors like that, it makes you wonder how inept is this office?” Dandridge said. “How many other mistakes do we hear about and see we don’t even realize.”

The circuit attorney’s office said a computer system error is to blame for the mistake. The office sent this statement to News 4:

“The initial confusion around the victim’s status was caused by a computer system error. A victim in a different case with a similar or the same name is deceased. The system incorrectly electronically attached the death notice to all victims with similar names, including this case.”

News 4 Investigates learned what prompted that mistake. While Graham was out on bond, he was arrested and charged in a shooting in February 2022. The victim in that case died, but their death was not related to the shooting. The Circuit Attorney’s Office marked that death in their electronic records system. That death, News 4 learned, also got attached to the robbery case.

Court records show Graham continued to be given bond despite the shooting charge and records showing he violated bond numerous times. Riley violated bond conditions more than 100 times in a span lasting more than two years. The Circuit Attorney’s Office said it knew about the violations, but it never filed a written motion to revoke bond.

Marvin Teer Jr., chief trial assistant for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, said the court was asked three times to revoke Riley’s bond.

“I know that there are, there was at least two oral motions in front of the court back in ‘21 and ‘22,” Teer said.

News 4 has continually asked the Circuit Attorney’s Office to provide records proving it requested the court revoke Riley’s bond. So far, no one has provided that.

Prosecutors can and do file motions to have bond removed, and they can make it clear in the court record that they object to bond. News 4 Investigates pulled court records that show in the past, the Circuit Attorney’s Office made sure a note was included on a bond order to say, “state opposed.”

At least four judges were involved in giving Riley bond. Judges are the ones who ultimately make the decision to give or take away bond from a defendant. Judges can and do revoke bond without a motion from prosecutors.

News 4 went to the courthouse to ask the judges on Riley’s case why he wasn’t arrested after dozens of bond violations. Interview requests were denied.

Riley’s former defense lawyer, Terrence Niehoff, claims the bond violations were for minor things such as not charging the GPS tracker and not getting home from work on time.

“They were very minor things,” he said. “You know, nothing that would typically get a judge outraged to lock somebody back up because people are presumed innocent. And the Supreme Court rule for bond says that judges are to basically lean towards releasing people unless there is evidence that they’re a danger to the community or they’re a flight risk.”