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Murder convict petitions for relief

January 15, 2009

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Mercersburg, Pa., man who has been serving a life sentence for the 1991 murder of his stepdaughter was back in Franklin County Court on Thursday for a Post-Conviction Relief Act hearing.

James Riley, 65, twice was convicted by juries of first-degree murder in the July 7, 1991, death of 20-year-old Kimberly Frisby, who was killed by a shotgun blast to her back in their Mercersburg home.

District Attorney John F. Nelson said Riley is claiming there is new evidence related to his first trial, an affidavit from Riley's wife claiming she did not wish to testify against him. Riley said he received the information from an attorney in November 2007.

However, the attorney Riley named as providing the information died several years before 2007, Nelson said.

"I did ask (Riley) if he knew he was dead," Nelson said. "He said he wasn't aware of that."

Nelson asked Judge Carol Van Horn to dismiss Riley's petition on several grounds, one being it relates to his first trial, a conviction that later was overturned.

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"He's not in prison for the first trial," Nelson said.

The petition also was not filed in a timely fashion and the spousal privilege Riley cites does not apply to homicide cases.

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