Judge to rule on bail in murder trial

A state district judge said Thursday he will rule in about two weeks whether he will grant bail for a man accused in the June beating death of his young son.

Judge Don Johnson said in the bond hearing at the 19th Judicial District Courthouse that he will review evidence presented by attorneys for Michael Anthony Robertson, 46, father of Xzayvion Riley, 8, before announcing his decision Dec. 12.

State District Judge Trudy White initially denied bail for Robertson on June 18, but Johnson ruled Aug. 27 that Robertson was entitled to a bond hearing.

Robertson and Lavaughn Riley, 32, were both indicted Aug. 9 on first-degree murder charges in the June 12 death of their son.

Both parents have pleaded not guilty.

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark has said the preliminary autopsy results show the boy died of an “overwhelming infection” caused by a ruptured bowel from blunt-force trauma to his abdomen. Clark ruled the child’s death a homicide.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to Lavaughn Riley’s Coy Avenue apartment June 12 because the boy was unresponsive, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks has said. The child was pronounced dead later that day at a hospital.

Lavaughn Riley admitted to deputies that she caused some of the bruises on her son’s body and that Robertson caused the bruises and scratches on his neck, Hicks said.

Robertson denied any involvement in his son’s injuries, Hicks said.

Prior to Xzayvion Riley’s death, deputies were contacted about the welfare of the boy and his siblings on three occasions in the past two years by the state Department of Children and Family Services, a baby sitter and a family member of the boy, Hicks said.

Richard Bourke, one of Robertson’s attorneys, argued in court Thursday that Robertson did not intend to kill his child, which the lawyer said would make him eligible for a charge other than a capital offense and entitle him to bail.

Prosecutor Will Morris asked Johnson several times Thursday to end the hearing, saying it was “a fishing expedition and an opportunity to lock in witness testimony and learn more about the case.”

Robertson’s attorneys brought several witnesses to court Thursday, but only four were allowed to testify — Clark, Coroner’s Office forensic pathologist Cameron Snider, Sheriff’s Office Detective Sonya Harden and Department of Children and Family Services investigator Ruby Jenkins.

Johnson denied defense attorneys Bourke and James Craig the opportunity Thursday to play a 911 tape Riley made the day of her son’s death but said he would review it before making his decision about the bail.