We are asking that Major General James L. Huggins, Jr. the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg & Colonel Mark Murray who is currently acting in his place---to relook at the Case of US v. Sgt Chris Riley, exonerate him of all charges, and take a CLOSER look at the command that this injustice occured under.
The end result of this case has yet to be finalized by Colonel Mark Murray, and he will have one final oppertunity to disapprove the charges against Sgt. Riley when he does his review for possible clemency. This petition is here to ask that Colonel Murray disapprove the charges against Sgt. Riley and allow him to be an active part of society and the ability to be a provider for his family.
Despite having NO evidence that Sgt. Riley ever committed a crime, he was convicted, kicked out of the Army, sent to prison for 45 days and given a FELONY record, merely because one soldier, with an axe to grind, said he committed a crime, and his buddy backed it up...
In the Army, if you can get your buddy to say something happened, you can ruin the life of a man you begrudge....
Sgt. Christopher Riley deployed to Iraq with 2/325 of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Charlie Company out of Fort Bragg in May of 2011. This was his third tour in Iraq and his fourth tour overall.
When Sgt. Riley deployed, his wife was pregnant with their first child. His wife suffers from a medical condition called Paroxysmal Supra-Ventricular Tachycardia (SVT), a condition caused by Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome, Factor V Leiden and Fibromyalgia (along with a few other undiagnosed issues). Though Factor V Leiden & SVT are not always complicated issues, Mrs. Riley was under supervision of a cardiologist because of several episodes of PSVT and fairly rare issues associated with the two. Sgt. Riley and his wife have known of these issues for a while, and were both well aware of the effects that they could have on Mrs. Riley’s pregnancy, and were confident that things would go well while Sgt. Riley was away.
Early in the deployment, Sgt. Riley had, had two separate encounters between him and the chain of command. The first was because Sgt. Riley voiced concern that soldiers in his squad were pulling guard shifts with weapons that contained NO AMMUNITION and he was concerned with the safety of his squad.
He wrote home to his wife asking her to try and inform others of the issue as well. The second issue that came to light, was that the Lieutenant directly above Sgt. Riley was ordering soldiers in the Company to keep wildlife (camel spiders) in their barracks rooms as “mascots” for the company, not only is this illegal, but Sgt. Riley saw this as a form of hazing, and inappropriate, and he also reported the same Lieutenant to the EO Rep. for using “gang chants” as cadences.
When Sgt. Riley’s wife was 28 weeks pregnant, she ended up hospitalized in the Cardiac Unit at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville NC. Her husband was sent a Red Cross message in Iraq to inform him that his pregnant wife had gone into SVT and needed him home.
The Physician’s Assistant assigned to the company that Sgt. Riley was in made multiple attempts to reach Mrs. Riley in the hospital and when he could not reach her (because the line kept dropping) he proceeded to call the hospital staff, inform him that he WAS Sgt. Riley and illegally obtain Mrs. Riley’s medical records over the phone.
With the minimal information provided to him, he than made a decision not to send Sgt. Riley home to assist his wife.
Sgt. Riley’s wife was having a very difficult time with her pregnancy at home, and living alone, terrified that something may happen to her or her unborn child, she began to push to have her husband home. She also made it clear to the chain of command directly above Sgt. Riley, that she wanted the Physician’s Assistant assigned to their company held accountable for illegally obtaining medical information. She made threats toward the chain of command to take the issue to her Congressman and the Inspector General at the 82nd Airborne Division.
After she proceeded to attempt to bring the issue to the attention of the chain of command, the Lieutenant directly above Sgt. Riley, pulled him aside and informed him that he would ruin Sgt. Riley’s career if he did not keep his wife from reporting the Physician’s Assistant, as they “were boys”, and he informed him that he would handle it.
Despite the threat, Mrs. Riley pursued the complaint anyways.
(Following the trial itself, the Corps. IG office did an investigation that determined that the 82nd Airborne IG Officer who took the complaint in July of 2011---PRIOR to Sgt. Riley being charged had failed to report the complaint filed by Mrs. Riley pertaining to the issues with the PA, Issues with the Commanders wife, and the on-going threats against Sgt. Riley....or act on it, the Army has addressed this issue and the IG Officer was held accountable, it was also reccommended that a Command Climate Survey be done after recieving documentation from the Riley family).
Following her hospital stay, the Family Readiness Group leader contacted Mrs. Riley a week after she returned home from the hospital, claiming she was offering her assistance. Mrs. Riley expressed to her that she felt it almost a slap in the face that the woman had waited a full week to contact her, and declined her assistance, and the FRG leader (also the spouse of Sgt. Riley’s Company Commander) made it very clear that Sgt. Riley was not going to be returning home to assist Mrs. Riley.
-------Needless to say, the phone call did not end well.
Following the altercation over the phone, Mrs. Riley and The FRG Leader, had a very PUBLIC argument over the FRG’s Facebook Page (that has since been taken down by the Company Commander—But Mrs. Riley has more than enough copies to go around). In this altercation, the two went back and forth until ultimately, the FRG Leader threatened Sgt. Riley’s pregnant wife.
In the months following, Sgt. Riley wrote home explaining to his wife, a chain of command that was treating him differently. He explained that he was being constantly disrespected, spoken down to and threatened by those individuals directly over him.
Eventually, Sgt. Riley was removed from his position as a squad leader (which he held at the rank of E5---it is unclear whether he made the decision to step down as he felt was necessary, or was asked to step down).
Shortly following his loss of position, Sgt. Riley was then detained by his chain of command on “suicide watch”, despite having any reason to do so, or any medical evaluation that would make this okay; his weapon was taken, and he was detained in his deployed barracks (Chu's).
During this period, the chain of command would not provide Sgt. Riley with access to a lawyer OR the Inspector General, and the chain of command made multiple attempts to illegally question Sgt, Riley, implicating that he had committed some illegal act.
After a medical examination of Sgt. Riley, it was determined that he was not suicidal, and the chain of command was then instructed to REMOVE him from suicide watch.
During the time in which Sgt. Riley was being detained on suicide watch, Sgt. Riley’s father-in-law (who is a retired Special Forces LTC. And works in Washington D.C. currently) Wrote an email to the Commanding Officer of his Battalion, asking why he was being detained without a lawyer, and pleading with him to look at the entire situation and determine if Sgt. Riley’s rights were being violated—also pointing out the issues with Sgt. Riley and the chain of command.
He received a response indicating loosely that he would look into it. During the same time frame, Sgt. Riley’s wife also filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the 82nd Airborne Division indicating the issues with the chain of command, the altercation between her and the FRG leader etc. (which was ignored, and never addressed any further) and also made multiple attempts to contact their Congressman, but was told that he could not do anything without a signed statement from Sgt. Riley (who was being illegally detained overseas and unable to provide one).
Following the email, on August 24th 2011, Sgt. Riley was charged with “assault with a deadly weapon”, but not immediately given a lawyer, a reason, explanation etc.
A second email was then sent the Commanding Officer, to further inform him of the issues between Sgt. Riley and the chain of command, and to point out inappropriate photos that were being displayed online by the Lieutenant who had previously threatened Sgt. Riley. He received no response---and to question the failure to provide access to legal representation or IG.
In the days following the second email, the Lieutenant wrote a sworn statement implying that Sgt. Riley was mentally unstable, along with several other statements indicating that he suffered from PTSD, or was mentally unsound. ---These were not made by anyone with any form of medical background, and were deemed inadmissible in court.
On September 23rd 2011, Mrs. Riley gave birth to their son, Noah, early in the morning.
From the time Mrs. Riley was 28 weeks pregnant until the birth of their son, she was in the hospital 17 separate times. Sgt. Riley was not present for his son’s birth; instead, he was in Iraq, being treated as an already convicted criminal (however he was still carrying around his weapon---make note of this as you read on).
Sgt. Riley was sent a Red Cross message indicating that his son had been born and received only a balled up piece of torn paper with their son’s height and weight scrambled onto it, thrown at him. The chain of command called the Red Cross themselves to confirm that Sgt. Riley had received it (its procedure for the soldier to call).
At roughly 5pm that evening, Mrs. Riley went into SVT in her hospital room. Rapid Response was called.
Upon being unable to slow down Mrs. Riley’s heart rate, (which was over 250bpm) she was chemically shocked. This failed, and the dosage was double and she was chemically shocked a second time. The second time, it was successful, and Mrs. Riley was moved back to the cardiac unit WITHOUT her newborn son, because he could not be on the floor as it was not secured for newborns (the hospital ultimately made accommodations to have an armed guard outside her hospital room so that she could keep her newborn in the room with her, as she did not have her husband present to stay with their child).
Sgt. Riley was sent another Red Cross message, indicting Mrs. Riley's condition----- that was never given to him by his chain of command.
The following day, an unprepared Sgt. Riley walked into his Article 32 hearing, completely unprepared, and having spent only 20-30 minutes face to face with his lawyer directly prior to the hearing (this was not his lawyers fault, as he was assigned to the case, and had been elseware). It was recommended that the charges go to General Court Martial.
When Noah was approx. three weeks old, Sgt. Riley was sent home from Iraq, not to meet his son, but to face a General Court Martial.
From the time Sgt. Riley returned home, until the exact day their son turned four months old Sgt. Riley worked his normal hours, and stayed at home with his wife and son. He never experienced issues with the chain of command during this time (his direct chain of command did not return from Iraq until more recently).
When his chain of command did begin to return home, Sgt. Riley was placed back under the direction of those individuals whom he’d had issues with in Iraq, then began to report to his wife again that he was experiencing a change back to a negative command climate and even informed her that someone had urinated on his vehicle while he was at work one day. He began driving his wife’s vehicle to work when he could, as less people knew what her vehicle looked like.
On January 24th, 2012, Sgt. Riley faced his Court Martial hearing.
In this hearing, one soldier whom Sgt. Riley had previously reprimanded, and also told he was going to prevent from going into the Special Forces due to his poor performance (he was in his squad and it was his duty to ensure that he make decisions in the best interest of the Army), testified that on June 18th 2011, Sgt. Riley entered his room in Iraq and in three separate movements, loaded his weapon asking three separate times “do you trust me?” pointed it at him, COMMENTED to his roommate how red the soldier’s face was and then unloaded his weapon and put it down.
A second “witness” who had cut his wrists in his barracks room prior to deployment, and been put on suicide watch (who never should have been in country to begin with) testified that Sgt. Riley in ONE SWIFT MOTION walked into his room, loaded his weapon, pointed it at his subordinate, unloaded it and walked out of the room, AT NO TIME SPEAKING—the statements did not remotely add up.
The ONLY piece of physical evidence that was entered into the courtroom by the prosecution was a letter, this letter was allegedly written by the accuser two days after the incident allegedly happened.
In this letter, the soldier indicated that the “incident” had occurred and it was signed by himself and his “witness” and dated June 20th 2011, and stashed away in the event that Sgt. Riley decided to “murder him and make it look like a suicide”
There are a few flaws with this letter and these are;
(1) Some of what is written in the letter contradicts what the soldier testified to.
(2) The accuser testified that the letter was written and signed June 20th 2011 and stashed away for safekeeping, while the witness testified that it was written June 18th 2011 and stashed away.
(3) There is no one aside from these two questionable soldiers who can arguably prove that this letter was not written at some random time and then backdated.
(4) Per Article 134 of UCMJ, Paragraph 60—one could argue that a letter as such, is not only inadmissible in court, but also illegal and punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
(5) If the prosecution wanted to argue that the accuser was scared of Sgt. Riley, the accuser hung out with the Lieutenant who threatened Sgt. Riley’s career earlier in the deployment on a regular basis, that being said—he had more than enough opportunity to bring the issue to light, had it actually occurred, but chose not to (this would also indicate—IF the allegations were true—that the soldier feared his chain of command would not address the “altercation” accordingly). Which would ONLY reenforce that the Army was aware that the command climate was failing---because they took this soldier's word at face value, never questioning him.
(6) If the soldier and his roommate (the “witness”) where so in fear of Sgt. Riley, why is it then, that there is PHYSICAL evidence that the roommate went to the gym on a daily basis with Sgt. Riley following the alleged incident.
Some of the other issues that were noted in the courtroom of one judge, two prosecutors, two defense attorneys, the accused and the family and friends of the accused are:
(1)The accused testified that he felt he was in trouble and that his family was at risk---nowhere in the alleged allegations did Sgt. Riley allegedly imply that accuser’s family was at risk, thus, this would be speculation. Despite being speculation, it was allowed in court.
Aside from it being speculation---one might also ask how it would be possible for Sgt. Riley to have any intention--as an active duty soldier----to go after someone's family when they all live in Brazil?....It would seem more accurate that this specialist put on nothing more than a good show.
(2) The two accusers came to court together, and left together…in the same vehicle, as his wife EVEN photographed just to ensure it was noted, because the two both testified that they were not friends, had not had a chance to discuss their stories, and did not associate with one another (despite living in the same room together for their entire deployment).
(3)During the Court Martial hearing, the prosecution’s attorneys had a Major sitting in the bench behind them, that was not previously approved to be a part of the prosecution team, coaching them on how to prosecute the case.
(4)The testimony of the “eyewitness” should not have been admissible in court because prior to the deployment, said Specialist was found in his barracks room with a butcher knife cutting his wrists, had to be escorted to Womack Army Medical center, and was put on a psychological profile. (I would go as far as saying that this individual was not even fit to deploy, let alone testify in a courtroom), as this demonstrates that he is an individual with psychological issues who could be easily influenced.
(5)The night before the trial, the prosecution made a phone call to the defense lead witness, and excused him from the case without proper authorization. Once the hearing began, the Judge ordered the prosecution to produce the witness, and the court was put on a recess until the witness could be produced. This was seemingly ignored by the judge, but rather childish at best.
(6)Specialist “eyewitness” testified that he was an eyewitness to the alleged actions of Sgt. Riley against Spec. “Accuser” however if one carefully looked at the layout of the room (which was EVEN presented in court by the prosecution) in which they allege that the actions took place, one will see that based on where he claims he was sitting, there was no physical way in which he would have been able to view such actions had they of taken place.
(7)The prosecution had done so poorly in the courtroom, that upon hearing the verdict, both of the prosecution attorneys showed visible shock when the Guilty verdict was read.
(8)Both witnesses described Sgt. Riley as being a threat to them, they explained that they began sleeping with their weapons regularly, locking their door, and gave the impression that they lived in sheer terror, had that of been so, why is it that Spec. “Eyewitness” went to the gym with Sgt. Riley on a daily basis after these actions allegedly occurred. (Also, please note---during the Article 32 hearing--the Specialist "witness" was put on the stand, and stated on the record that he no longer wanted to participate in the case against Sgt. Riley, instead of allowing him to not participate, the prosecution made claims that Specialist "accuser" was afraid of Sgt. Riley, causing his reluctance, and then he was forced to proceed with the Court Martial hearing.
(9) The prosecution explained in court that Sgt. Riley was a “bad” soldier because he had failed a PT test around the time that the initial allegations came out; FIRST, this is irrelevant, as failing a PT test, does not imply that he is capable of assault, but to justify the allegation anyways, Sgt. Riley, upon returning from Iraq, had to have surgery for a tumor in his abdomen that was causing him severe pain and was ignored by his PA while deployed, and he also was given an MRI on his ankle that indicated that he had very severe damage, and he was given a profile (upon returning home from Iraq) indicating that he was physically unable to perform the duties he was prescribed.
(10)The prosecution also indicated in the court room, to try and discredit his character that Sgt. Riley failed to give a class to soldiers on “blood chit” prior to returning home from Iraq, AGAIN, irrelevant to the case, but if one must know, this was because the chain of command had changed his subject matter without proper notice, and then forced him onto a guard duty with no proper materials to complete the task in which he was prescribed.
(11)The prosecution indicated that Sgt. Riley had nothing to loose and even had made a prior statement to others that it takes a brave person to commit suicide---The FACTS with this are, while Sgt. Riley was away for training at one point in time, his best friend committed suicide, discussion about suicide is in fact a touchy subject with Sgt. Riley, not because he is not of sound mind, but because someone he loved very much had taken their own life, and he was deeply hurt by it. He has (in a way) developed a form of survivor’s guilt that maybe he could address, but again it is irrelevant. The fact is, Sgt. Riley had a lot to lose, he owns his own home, has a beautiful child who absolutely adores him, and a wife who thinks the world of him.
(12)The prosecution depicted Sgt. Riley as a cold and calculated individual; when truly, Sgt. Riley is quiet, mildly awkward, honest, hardworking, slightly reserved---but VERY gentle and loving. This same individual, picks up kittens on the side of the road and brings them home to bottle feed (was actually bottle feeding a piglet at home by the time his case went to trial), has more patience and compassion for his child at times than his wife, shows absolute maturity---and at the end of the day was EVEN holding a position within his company that was supposed to be for a higher ranking individual than he was. He also passed two separate mental evaluations after the allegations came out (despite everything falling apart around him).
(13) Sgt. Riley had no prior record, having been in the Army his ENTIRE adult life at the age of 26; Sgt. Riley has NEVER had a flaw on his record.
(14) The actual Specialist “accuser” was previously a citizen of Brazil. He only gave up citizenship after he was unable to enter into the Special Forces Training Program, now that’s okay…but there’s more: he is described by soldiers within the company as being a questionable individual, who seemingly is involved in some form of questionable overseas activity, he maintains offshore bank accounts (that he discussed with Sgt. Riley around tax season—as he was his squad leader), has a relatively HUGE influx of unexplainable income, at the rank of E4 has no problem showing off his brand new Beemer, and purchasing items for soldiers in his company, as explained by an individual in the Company (not Sgt. Riley himself) takes phone calls (even in Iraq) at all hours of the day and night---that he claims are from a company that he owns in Brazil. This character is questionable at best.
(15) If the chain of command felt that Sgt. Riley was such a threat, AND the accuser and "witness" claim this to be true, why is it that Sgt. Riley had the entire side of the defense benches filled with soldiers sitting in on his behalf, but NO ONE, and I MEAN...ABSOLUTEY, WITHOUT A DOUBT---NO ONE from Sgt. Riley's direct chain of command had the (for lack of better words) BALLS, to come sit on the prosecution side in the court room for the trial or even the sentencing the following day, furthermore, no one showed up to support the accuser or "witness" as they testifed.
Instead...the prosecution benches had a few people present from the JAG office, and one Major who was illegally helping the prosecution team---but no one in the direct chain of command was ANYWHERE to be found throughout the trial--not only does this show a lack of concern for their own soldiers, it shows that they were too afraid to come to court, and watch their own soldier have his life ruined, see his family and newborn son, face his family, after they pushed him into the line of fire.
The Defense attorneys, assigned to Sgt. Riley through Trial Defense Services, did a spectacular job. One could argue that the two make a rather remarkable team, they went out of their way to truly ensure that Sgt. Riley was defended to the best of their abilities, and one could go on to say, that had anyone higher up seen the way in which they formulated the case, and acted in the courtroom, they would be impressed. Sgt. Riley’s family felt that the team of two lawyers went above and beyond their duties to ensure they had their ducks in a row.
The defense presented a few things to demonstrate Sgt. Riley’s innocence, these include:
(1)Multiple well decorated character witnesses, all of which had previously deployed and served with, above and under Sgt. Riley. Each testified that Sgt. Riley was of sound mind; a good soldier and even that they would gladly, deploy with Sgt. Riley TODAY despite knowledge of the allegations against him, and be proud to do so.
(2)They also stated in court (though the conversation was not used as evidence because it depicted an argument between Sgt. Riley and his wife, along with a discussion on names of their child etc.) that during the time that the accusers allege that Sgt. Riley assaulted his accuser, Sgt. Riley was carrying on a conversation with his wife on Skype, as it was their one year Anniversary, with few absences that were all explained.
(3)They produced a witness that testified that Sgt. Riley, had in fact, discussed the process for removing Specialist “accuser’s” Special Forces packet from processing---this gives the accuser motive for why he would be so willing to fabricate a story against his squad leader.
Ultimately, at the end of trial---the Judge stated the verdict: GUILTY.
Again, even the Prosecution showed shock at the verdict.
It is VERY clear, that the burden of proof in this case, was left solely up to the defense to prove that Sgt. Riley was not in fact guilty.
There was Absolutely NO proof that Sgt. Riley was guilty, and no solid case at all provided by the prosecution.
The facts are, that the Judge took a stand and said “guilty until proven innocent” and that is exactly what he seems to have made his verdict based upon.
(1) There was no reason for which Sgt. Riley would have commited such a stupid and childish act.
(2) This was one of the easiest deployments that Sgt. Riley had ever been assigned to and had he of been a cold and calculated criminal, it would have easily come to light a lot sooner than the easiest deployment he had ever been on. This was the FIRST deployment for the accuser, witness and Lieutenant involved.
(3) No other subordinate has ever reported Sgt. Riley to have committed any acts as such.
(4) Sgt. Riley is so responsible that he will not even drive a vehicle after having one drink with dinner, how could someone with such a responsible outlook on life, make such a stupid mistake?
(5) Sgt. Riley, in fact, had much to lose, a brand new infant son, a wife who he loves very much (and relies on his medical benefits for her extensive medical care---to include an upcoming heart procedure that she could be at risk of dying without, and the medications to sustain her safety until she is treated.
(6) Sgt. Riley had a career that he built from nothing which he loved so dearly, with 4 past deployments under his belt, and millions of possibilities outside of the army, in the event that he chose to get out.
(7) Sgt. Riley came from a small town, he did not join the army for money, or benefits, in fact, he often gave his money to his family to help support others he is related to, and very rarely even saw absolute significance in the value, so that he could help someone in need. Sgt. Riley joined the army as a true heart of hearts “good ole’ boy” with only the interest of the American people in mind. The rest has and always will be irrelevant to him.
On January 25th 2012, Sgt. Riley was sentenced to: 45 days in military prison, a felony record, a misconduct discharge from the army, termination of pay/benefits.
Despite the compelling evidence that he did not commit the crime he was accused of, Sgt. Riley is now labeled a Felon by the U.S. Army.
This case set precedents for the Army;
--It says that it is okay, for a chain of command to ruin someone’s career when they stood up for what was right.
--it says that all of you other NCO’s out there, are at risk too, because the first time that someone doesn’t like YOU, they can write ONE statement saying you did whatever they want to say you did, and YOUR life too, can be ruined.
--It demonstrates that the Army feels that it is perfectly alright for anyone within it’s organization to violate the Constitution, human civil rights, privacy laws---and HIPPA laws.
This man who has served almost 8 years for this country, and spent his ENTIRE adult life, doing nothing but fighting for your freedom, no longer has his reputation, career or any way to care for his family, and has lost all of the freedom he has spent his adulthood fighting for.
He and his family have absolutely no income to pay their bills and feed their child or pets.
UPDATE May 1st 2012 :
Sgt. Riley was released to his wife from Chesapeake Consolidated Brigg on March 2 2012.
Since Sgt. Riley's case went to trial, there has been investigations launched by the Offices of Congressman Kissell and Senator Burr. To date, neither of these have produced any significant information or have produced any results from the Army.
Over the time period that Sgt. Riley spent in prison---his accuser was observed outside of their home on one occasion, threats to Sgt. Riley's family were posted to the Rants and Raves section of Fayetteville Craigslist & numerous soldiers within Unit which Sgt. Riley was assigned came to the family with complaints of being threatened and intimidated in regard to Sgt. Riley's case, these soldiers were told that they were not ALLOWED to voice support of Sgt. Riley, sign the petition in support of Sgt. Riley or post anything in their personal Facebook pages in regard to the case (note these are complaints that came directly from other soldiers--so this is THIRD party information).
Some of the soldiers who testified as Character Witnesses in Sgt. Riley's trial also reported that they were treated negatively and harassed following the trial.
Since Chris has been home, his Cat which he bottle raised mysteriously disappeared, and one of the tires on his truck was slashed.
The Office of Congressman Kissell contacted the Fort Bragg Emergency Relief Group asking them to assist the Riley's in paying bills---the Friday after they were contacted, the Group contacted Mrs. Riley offering assistance...by Tuesday Mrs. Riley was contacted and informed that this group could not assist the family as Sgt. Riley was NOT a soldier in good standing..
Sgt. Riley is still pending a Clemency Hearing, due to this--he is currently sitting in limbo with the Army, he is still in the Army but receiving no pay and on appellate leave, he was NEVER given an ETS Physical by the Army and has NEVER been afforded the oppertunity to turn in his military equippment, he was merely pushed out and forgotten.
Mrs. Riley underwent a successful heart procedure in March at UNC hospital, and made a very quick recovery--thanks to the WONDERFUL staff who oversaw her care.
We will update with more information regarding our case as we get it.
Thank you everyone for your continued support.