Xzayvion Riley’s parents were indicted Thursday on first-degree murder charges in the June beating death of the 8-year-old Baton Rouge boy.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office has not decided whether to seek the death penalty against Michael Robertson, 46, and Lavaughn Riley, 32.
“Both of these defendants are being considered for the death penalty,” Moore said. “A death sentence is at least an appropriate sentence given the circumstances.”
Robertson and Riley each were initially booked on a count of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile following the death of their son June 12, but the counts were changed to first-degree murder after East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark deemed Xzayvion’s death a homicide.
Preliminary autopsy results show the boy died of “overwhelming infection,” caused by a ruptured bowel from blunt-force trauma to his abdomen, Clark has said. The autopsy also showed 60 external signs of recent and old trauma, including abrasions, bruises and a human bite mark, he said.
Riley’s attorney, Margaret Lagattuta, on Thursday called the case “tragic” but said “it’s too early to make any comment.”
Louisiana Capital Assistance Center Director Richard Bourke, who represents Robertson, was out of the country and could not be reached for comment.
Riley admitted to deputies that she beat her son and caused some of the bruises on his body, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks has said. Riley also said Robertson beat the child and caused the bruises and scratches on the victim’s neck, Hicks said.
Robertson denied any involvement in his son’s injuries, Hicks has said.
The victim’s 10-year-old sibling told deputies that Robertson beat the child with his fist from noon until the evening on June 11, an affidavit of probable cause says. The sibling also said she saw Robertson bite the child on a regular basis as a form of discipline and that Xzayvion vomited before he went to bed the night of June 11, Hicks has said.
Deputies were called to Riley’s Coy Avenue apartment the afternoon of June 12 in reference to the boy, who was unresponsive, Hicks has said. Paramedics took Xzayvion to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, she said.
Prior to the couple’s arrest and their son’s death, deputies had been contacted about the welfare of their children 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 children, Hicks has said.
After Xzayvion died, DCFS — the state agency responsible for protecting children from abuse and neglect — could release only limited information about its role in trying to keep him from harm.
DCFS spokesman Trey Williams said June 15 he could confirm the agency had “an open and active case with the family,” but could not say when the case was opened or provide more detailed information about the steps the agency took to protect the child.
The state law requiring the confidentiality of case records of clients of DCFS allows “limited public disclosure of summary information” in child abuse and neglect records when an examining physician determines abuse or neglect was the cause of death of a child.
The limited DCFS disclosure was triggered by Clark’s preliminary autopsy report that the death was a result of abuse by a caretaker.
Prosecutor Will Morris said Robertson, of 11480 Glenda Drive, and Riley, of 8711 Coy Ave., will be arraigned Wednesday.
They are being held without bond. The case is assigned to state District Judge Don Johnson. First-degree murder is punishable by either life in prison or death by lethal injection.