Remembrance Walk remains about hope, faith after arrest made in Merced slaying

Merced mother thankful for arrest in 10-year-old homicide case

Merced resident Marylene Riley says she is thankful after police arrested a man for the 2008 murder of her son Michael Riley, in Merced, Calif., on Friday, July 20, 2018.
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Merced resident Marylene Riley says she is thankful after police arrested a man for the 2008 murder of her son Michael Riley, in Merced, Calif., on Friday, July 20, 2018.

Much has changed since last year’s annual Riley Brothers Victims Remembrance Walk, which on Saturday is entering its 10th year of honoring friends and families of those killed by violence in Merced’s Loughborough community.

Earlier this year, an arrest was made in the unsolved 2008 slaying of 29-year-old Michael Riley, the older of two brothers killed nearly a year apart.

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Merced resident Marylene Riley, holds photos of her two sons Michael, left and Marlis, right at the cemetery where her two sons are buried in Merced, Calif., on Friday, July 20, 2018. The Merced Police Department announced on Thursday, that an arrest has been made for the 2008 murder of Michael Riley. Riley, a United States Navy veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was shot and killed on Oct. 7, 2008 near the Village Meadows Apartments in the 1100 block of Loughborough Drive. Nearly a year later, Marlis Riley was killed following a fight with two men on Sept. 12, 2009. Andrew Kuhn akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

The arrest was long anticipated for Michael Riley’s mother, Marylene Riley, who has preached faith in God and hope for justice that eluded her younger son, 27-year-old Marlis Riley, when his killers took plea deals for lesser sentences of involuntary manslaughter.

But the remembrance walk this year, starting at noon Saturday, Oct. 13, in the FoodMaxx parking lot at 1300 Olive Avenue, will have the same message of hope and faith, said Marylene Riley, who organizes the event every year.

“For Mike, this is a special 10th year for him. And we’re now going to trial,” she said.

San Jose resident Jerome Slayton, 30, was arrested on July 19 and charged with the slaying of Michael Riley. He has pleaded not guilty.

“I say every year that I can’t give up hope,” Marylene Riley said. “I have to stay faithful and continue believing that (a conviction) is going to happen. ... I’m just thankful that I’m alive to see it. That was one of my prayers.”

Marylene Riley said she hopes on Saturday to acknowledge all the people who have stood by her side during the remembrance walk each year.

The walk will start with speeches and prayers in the FoodMaxx parking lot. From there, supporters will walk across Olive Avenue north on Meadows Avenue to the intersection of Loughborough Drive to the site where Michael Riley was killed on Oct. 7, 2008.

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People march in remembrance of victims of violence in the community during the annual Riley Brothers Victims Remembrance Walk Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, on Meadows Avenue in Merced. Vikaas Shanker vshanker@losbanosenterprise.com

After paying respects to Michael Riley, his friends and his family, the walk will continue west on Loughborough and left on Denver Avenue to Conestoga Drive through the alley where Marlis was killed on Sept. 12, 2009, behind apartments in the area.

After holding prayers for Marlis Riley, the walk will head through Austin Avenue, back to Olive Avenue and the parking lot.

Marylene Riley said the walk also will stop at the sites of others killed in the area if their families wish to attend.

“Now we’re going to trial, but I believe I’m still going to do this for others who were killed and their cases haven’t been solved,” Riley said. “This is about bringing the community together.”

Jury trial proceedings for Slayton are expected to start on Oct. 23, according to court records.