Prosecutors to seek death penalty for suspect in Lakeland family massacre

Local News


LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — The state of Florida has announced that it intends to seek the death penalty for the man accused of massacring a family in a Lakeland home in early September.

On Sept. 5, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced that Bryan James Riley, a former sharpshooter with the U.S. Marines, shot and killed four complete strangers in their home, including a baby.

Judd also said Riley injured an 11-year-old girl in the shooting, who told deputies she survived by playing dead until she was rescued.

This past Tuesday, a grand jury formally indicted Riley on 22 criminal charges, including four counts of first-degree murder.

In a notice of intent signed by State Attorney Brian Haas, the state made it clear that it would seek the maximum punishment for these murder charges based on aggravating circumstances. Some of the factors listed in the document are the heinous nature of the murders, the way the crime was planned, and the fact that one of the victims was under the age of 12.

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