Marine charged in Lakeland massacre to have October court hearing

Polk County

Polk County Sheriff’s Office

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Bryan Riley, 33, the Marine accused of murdering four family members in a shooting in Lakeland on Sept. 4 will be in court in October for a hearing over preservation of evidence.

New court filings released from Polk County show that Riley will next appear on Oct. 12 in Bartow for arraignment. Riley faces 18 counts in the Capital Murder case, covering a shooting that left three adults and an infant dead, and another girl injured.

Four of those charges are for first-degree murder for the deaths of Justice Gleason, Theresa Lanham who was in a relationship with Gleason, Lanham’s mother Catherine Delgado, and Gleason’s infant son Jody, who was born in May.

Gleason’s 11-year-old daughter, from a previous relationship, is the only survivor of the shooting.

Riley faces multiple additional charges, including two counts of shooting into a dwelling, one count of arson, one count of attempted first degree murder, seven counts of attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer, one count of assault and armed burglary, two counts of assault and armed burglary of a dwelling, and kidnap of a child under 13-years-old.

Riley, a Marine sharpshooter, served in Iraq and Afghanistan on three tours over four years, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. He served from 2008 to 2010, then was honorably discharged and spent three years in the reserve. According to Riley’s girlfriend, he was suffering from some mental health issues, but had not been violent.

Judd told the public that Riley had no criminal history and was working for a private security company.

Riley’s mental health played a part in the tragedy that unfolded on Sept. 4.

Claiming that God had given him a vision and told him to save Gleason’s daughter “Amber” by stopping her from committing suicide, Riley went to Gleason’s home the night before the murders.

There was no Amber at the Gleason home, or among the family members.

Despite being told to leave, Riley “was insistent” and wouldn’t go, at first. When Riley returned to the residence nine hours later, he brought violence with him.

Riley is accused of murdering the three adults living at the home, an infant, and the family dog, as well as shooting the 11-year-old girl. She told the sheriff that she played dead to survive.

In court, a hearing was rescheduled seeking to have the state and defense discuss the preservation of evidence. The original date was set for Sept. 10, filed by the defense.

The motion for preservation of evidence filed by Riley’s attorney seeks to “protect and preserve” any and all evidence that could negate Riley’s guilt, including:

  • Recordings of conversations between Riley and law enforcement officers or others that could have an effect on the case
  • Samples and specimens collected from Riley including blood samples and material for medical tests
  • Samples for alcohol, medications or controlled and uncontrolled substances which could be used
  • All of the case’s physical evidence, reports, written logs, any documentation or correspondence
  • All recorded communications involving law enforcement agents in the case
  • Materials of any tests performed on Riley or other persons from the case.

Following the hearing on preservation of evidence, Riley will be entitled, if duly prosecuted, to those materials.

Now, the hearing has been moved to Oct. 12. Riley will be allowed to appear virtually in court.

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