Opening statements in the murder trial of Carolyn Riley were scheduled to be made today in Plymouth County Superior Court. Riley and her husband, Michael, are accused of deliberately killing their 4-year-old daughter, Rebecca, with the powerful prescription drug clonidine.

Three years after she and her husband were charged, Carolyn Riley was to go on trial today for the alleged overdose murder of their 4-year-old daughter, Rebecca.


Opening statements by prosecutors and Riley’s defense attorney were to be made in Plymouth County Superior Court in Brockton before Judge Charles J. Hely. There are nine women and seven men on the jury, and the trial is expected to last three weeks.


Rebecca’s father, Michael Riley, is expected to go on trial in mid-February. The Rileys’ trials were separated last week at the request of prosecutors.


The Rileys are facing first-degree murder charges. Prosecutors say they deliberately killed the little girl with the powerful prescription drug clonidine – in part, allegedly, because they failed to get federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments for her, as they had for themselves and their two older children.


The Rileys say Rebecca died of pneumonia at their Hull home in December 2006. They also say they were following the instructions of the psychiatrist who diagnosed Rebecca with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and prescribed the clonidine and other medications.


Clonidine is a blood-pressure drug that can be used as a sedative for ADHD. Rebecca was given Depakote for the bipolar disorder. An autopsy determined that she died from the combined effects of those drugs along with over-the-counter medications.


Dr. Kayoko Kifuji of Tufts-New England Medical Center diagnosed Rebecca with the disorders when she was 2. She is among scores of witnesses that both sides have called to testify.


Testimony from medical experts is expected to play a crucial role in the trial, especially in explanations to the jury about the effects of clonidine on a child.


Earlier this month, the Rileys and their attorneys asked Hely to dismiss the case, asserting that a prosecutors’ medical report supports their argument that Rebecca died of pneumonia. Hely swiftly denied the motion.


Prosecutors said the Rileys’ attorneys were using the report in a selective, misleading way. They say other reports will show that Rebecca had lethal amounts of clonidine in her system. They will also argue that Michael and Carolyn Riley are responsible for the girl’s death because they allegedly refused to seek treatment for their daughter as her condition worsened.


Defense attorneys say Rebecca’s condition got worse much faster than the Rileys expected.


Reach Lane Lambert at llambert@ledger.com.