COLUMBUS, Ga, (WRBL)— Two Columbus men involved in a 2021 Midtown murder were sentenced Wednesday morning.
August 11th, Zajaliq Riley was convicted of shooting and killing Devion Miley. Prosecutor Robin Anthony recommended life without the possibility of parole. Riley’s defense attorney, Michael Garner, asked the court to consider his client has no prior felony convictions, and is also 22 years old, just 20 when he shot and killed Miley.
Superior Court Judge Gil McBride sentenced Riley to life with the possibility of parole plus five years to be served consecutively on gun charges.
“I think [Riley’s] attorney did a good job of pointing out some of the factors that show that he has no prior felony convictions, he’s a very young man, and so that was a good job on his part,” Prosecutor Robin Anthony told WRBL. “It makes sense what the judge said, I know we’d ask for life without the possibility, but I respect that the court’s decision was made based on the factors that it considered.”
On a life sentence in Georgia, with the possibility of parole, you have to serve 30 years. Riley’s eligibility for parole will be re-evaluated at the end of that sentence.
Co-defendant Detric Bush was originally charged with felony murder; however, he accepted a plea deal from the state for lesser charges, but he had to testify against Riley. The murder charge was dropped, instead of life in prison he was given 15 years probation and credit for time served.
“What Mr. Bush did, at considerable risk of himself, was set an example in this community for others who know something about crimes to come forward,” Superior Court Judge Gil McBride said. “I think that Mr. Bush’s handling of himself in this case, his approach to the case, is vastly different than what we so often see. And he has set a very worthy example that if emulated more broadly in this community would result in a reduction of violent crimes.”
The state wanted additional jailtime for Bush but did not get it. Bush served more than two years.
“I was really impressed by the judge’s decision and his comments regarding the public safety issue. The judge clearly stated that if we had more individuals willing to testify as to what they saw, what they heard, the community would be safer,” Anthony said. “I respect the court for recognizing that isn’t the issue that we have here in Columbus, that we have here in Georgia, that we have here in the nation.”
Before being sentenced, Bush turned to Miley’s family and apologized for the role he played surrounding Miley’s death.