Milford man pleads guilty to murder in after-prom party shooting death

DOVER — Eugene Riley didn’t pull the trigger, investigation determined, but he pleaded guilty to murder Thursday morning as an accomplice in a shooting death during an after-prom party last year.
Riley, of Milford, was immediately sentenced to 15 years in prison in the death of Jameir Vann-Robinson, shot in the back in the early morning of May 13, 2018, in the unit block of Mitscher Road in Dover.

The second-degree murder charge brought a sentence that can be reduced with good time served.
Ahmir Bailey, of Lincoln, was convicted of first-degree murder in October and will be sentenced in mid-January.

Mr. Vann-Robinson, 20, of Smyrna, was walking to his vehicle when shot at approximately 2:04 a.m., Dover Police said. The incident escalated from an initial verbal altercation, according to authorities.

Riley, then 18, and Bailey, 19, were at the scene of a party following Dover High’s prom, according to trial testimony.
Prior to sentencing, Mr. Vann-Robinson’s mother read a prepared statement to the Court, halting at times to stay composed among tears and light sobs.
“He was my first born and only son, who was senselessly and cruelly taken from me,” she began. “I have had a few jobs over the years, but the one that counted was being a mother to my children.

“Although I have two beautiful daughters who I love with all my heart, there is an emptiness inside due to Jameir’s death that will haunt me daily for the rest of our lives.”
His mother described Jameir as “kind, loving, very happy sincere, loyal, humble, affectionate, educated, a hard worker, sentimental and most of all a caring son.”

From the Homegoing service.

‘Upstanding young man’
With a knock on the door, detectives notified the father of the fatal shooting at his home at around 6 a.m. that day.
Mr. Vann-Robinson’s mother read a statement from his father, who said his “whole world crashed as I heard them say my son had been shot and killed.”

The father said his son worked for the State of Delaware’s Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna and had no criminal record.
“A great upstanding young man with a bring future ahead of him was so tragically cut short because of the actions of the defendant,” the statement read.
“My heart is torn to pieces and will never be the same …

“All his dreams, passions and desires were cut abruptly, I guess we will never know the true man he would have grown into.”
Offered the opportunity to speak prior to sentencing, Riley said, “Your honor I take full responsibility for my actions, I apologize to the family.”

Riley left the courtroom escorted by correctional officers and softly said “I love you” to a family member who responded quietly “I love you. Have a nice day.”
Prosecuting Deputy Attorney General Gregory R. Babowal said afterward “The State hopes this plea resolution provides some closure to the Vann-Robinson family.
“This defendant has accepted his role in this tragic shooting death and has been sentenced accordingly.

The State will now focus on the co-defendant’s sentencing next month.”
Defense attorney Alexander W. Funk did not minimize the tragic results of the shooting, but said Riley had provided the victim’s family with some comfort by “sparing them of a trial, a second trial.”

Riley has been incarcerated since May 14, 2018. Following release from prison, he will serve decreasing levels of probation for 18 months.
The victim’s mother said she hoped a lengthy prison term would resonate with others.

“A strict sentence for this menace to society has the potential to affect the thinking and actions of others,” she said.
“I certainly hope it will keep that menace to society from committing such a heinous crime again.”

Superior Court Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. said that while the Court can not bring back the decedent, it was tasked with finding an appropriate sentence in the matter.

“It’s always tragic (when a parent) loses a child, most of us go through life believing our children will survive us,” he said.

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