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Judge Denies Gary Riley’s Request to Change Guilty Plea in Murder Trial

March 31st, 2009 by

 After having accepted a plea bargain on December 12, which sentenced him to life in prison, Gary Riley had petitioned the Drew County Circuit Court to withdraw his guilty plea based on “deficient performance” by his attorney.

Circuit Judge Bynum Gibson, recently denied that motion without a hearing, based on the merits of the motion.


Posted December 12, 2009

Gary Riley Pleads Guilty for Bobby Hampton Murder–More Information

Gary Riley accepted a guilty plea Thursday, and accepted a sentence of life in prison, without parole.  By accepting the “life without” sentence, Riley will not face the possibility of lethal injection and the death penalty.

Mr. Hampton’s widow and brother were present and testified that the agreement was acceptable.

Riley was charged with capital murder and robbery.

Riley was tested to have a I.Q. of 97, but was diagnosed with a mild impairment, based on years of alcohol use, by a psychiatrist involved in the case.  Riley spoke on his own behalf when asked to tell Judge Gibson what happened that January day.

Riley told the court, “I shot him in the back”, and added, “I was intending to shoot over his shoulder and scare him.”  Riley told the court that Hampton owed him $750 and had taken some of his carpentry tools.

Riley also admitted, “I took his billfold.  It had $7.00 in it. I kept the $7.00, and left.”

Riley kept a 20 guage shotgun in his truck, and he and Hampton were going to look at a couple of perspective carpentry jobs.  “I took the gun out of the truck and propped it up against the trailer,” he added.  “I told Bobby we may scare up a rabbit.”

The only noticeable area of confusion in Thursday’s hearing was over the elements of Capital Murder, which include “premeditated and deliberately” caused the death of, or “in the event of an aggravated robbery or the flight from” caused the death of a person.

In Riley’s first description of the events, he said that he meant to shoot over Hampton’s shoulder to scare him, which didn’t qualify as a definition of capital murder.  Judge Gibson told him that if he was trying to minimize the intent of his actions, that he would need to speak to his attorneys and give a full and accurate explanation of what happened at the trailer on Garnett Road. But that if what he had told the court was correct, then there would need to be a jury trial, as had been scheduled, which would begin on Friday.

When Riley stood before the court after speaking with his attorneys, he gave a more detailed explanation, which the judge described as adequately “providing the court with a factual basis for reckless conduct”, which was required for the plea to be equal to the charge, as required by law.

Riley said that his earlier statement, “was not the way I intended it to sound.”  Riley continued, “I was very mad and had asked Bobby for the money, and he told me I may never get it.  I asked him, what if I asked Mrs. Hampton, and he told me if I got the money, then I’d never spend it.”

After the shotgun blast, Riley commented, “when he fell, I grabbed his billfold, thinking I’d get some of it bank, and I left.”

Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen added, “He intended to provoke fear in the man, in an attempt to get his money,” thus making Riley “guilty of aggravated robbery.”

Judge Gibson ruled that, “there are sufficient facts in the record, to which he (Riley) has admitted.  This court is satisfied beyond any doubt that he is guilty, as charged.”

As the court process came to a close, Judge Gibson pointed out that Riley benefited by avoiding any possibliity of the death penalty,; the prosecutor did not reduce the original charges; and that the family will now be more able to received closure in the loss of Mr. Hampton.


The story below was posted on December 3, 2008

Gary Riley, accused of the January Capital Murder of Bobby Hampton, had a motion for continuance presented in Circuit Court Monday, by his public defender, Steven Porch.

Judge Bynum Gibson instructed the prosecutor’s office to file a response to that motion, which they did.

According to Drew County Circuit Clerk records, Judge Gibson, Tuesday, denied that motion for more time, leaving the Riley’s murder trial set to take later this month.

The history of the case in attatched below.


The story below posted on September 25, 2008.

Gary Riley in Court Monday in Bobby Hampton Murder

Gary Riley, the man charged with the capital murder and aggravated robbery of Bobby Hampton, had a hearing in his case before Drew County Circuit Court Judge Bynum Gibson, earlier this week.

According to 10th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen, Judge BynumGibson allowed the defense an additional 30 days to file documents in reference to issues with the case, that may have been affected by the time consuming process of the mental evaluation.

The defense will also likely seek neurological testing in the trial

The Judge also ordered a release of records from the Arkansas State Hospital.

The case is set to go before a jury in December.


The story below posted on May 28, 2008.

Gary Riley, the man charged with the capital murder of Bobby Hampton, attended a hearing in his case in Drew County Circuit Court, Tuesday, for Judge BynumGibsonto rule on several motions dealing with the case.

Latrece Gray and Robby Golden, of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission represented Riley, while Thomas Deen represented the state. 

Deenpointed out the attorney Steven Porch, who is now withthe local public defenders office (representing Riley) was with the Prosecutor’s office at the beginning of the year, and had signed a “prosecutor’s subpoena” in the case of Bobby Hampton, who was missing at that time.

Since that time, Hampton’s body has been found, Riley has been arrested, and Porch has been hired to head the local public defender’s office.  Judge Gibson described this as “a non-issue” because it was just a “function of the office” that Porch held at the time.  Porch will speak with Riley, and verify that the defendant is still comfortable with Porch representing him.


Robby Golden presented numerous motions on behalf of Riley, which included:

That Riley be allowed to wear street clothes in future court sessions.  Gibson granted this motion, subject to security issues.

That defense be allowed to receive transcription of interviews, which was granted.

That “emotional” sounds and comments in the courtroom be controlled.  This motion was granted, as much as possible, under the circumstances.

A motion involving the state crime lab, which was agreed to.

Extended time for motions to be presented to the court.  Judge Gibson agreed that late motions would be accepted “with good cause.”

A request that all responses to motions be documented.  Judge Gibson told the court that he would accept responses to motions from the attorneys  “from the podium, in open court, and for the record” which will be documented by the court recorder.

Motion for discovery, which already must meet “Brady” requirements.  Deen mentioned that he was aware of an autopsy issue, that has already been provided.

Motion to prevent “overt and covert solicitation of information from the defendant”, which was covered in the last hearing, and was “granted again” by Judge Gibson.

There were motions to provide exculpatory information, and other information that would affect the testimony of a witness.  Judge Gibson denied these motions as not being specific enough.

Issues pertaining to the “credibility of a witness” should be presented to the defense, such as a plea bargain for a witness, but only Riley is charged with the crime.

Deen stated that the only witness that may receive any benefit from his office would possibly be Bobby Hampton’s family.  He commented that “the state would like to make payment to the victim’s family for expenses.”

Golden also presented several other motions as well, with some being granted, and some being denied.


Latrese Gray took the podium, also representing Riley, and brought up the issue of Golden’s first motion.  She pointed out that Judge Gibson had questioned her more about a scheduling conflict in June, than he had Deenabout a similar issue withanupcoming September date.  It was pointed out that Gibson had accepted bothattorneys conflicts, and re-scheduled both court dates.  Gray stated that her office, as well as the Attorney General’s office, would want this, and similar issues, brought up in court, so that these issues may be eligible to be brought up, in the event of an appeal.  She also wanted it in the record, in case Judge Gibson were later asked to recuse himself.  Judge Gibson pointed out to the courtroom that Ms. Gray was only doing her job well, and that this was not an attack on him, and that he didn’t take it that way. 

Gray then requested that Judge Gibson set aside a May 5 deadline as to whether an insanity or mental retardation issue would be raised.  Deen called this “an affirmative defense.”  Gray would not comment on the likelyhood that this issue would be used in court, only saying that it may if  “an issue would arise pertaining to Mr. Riley’s I.Q.” 

Gray described the choice to postpone Riley’s possible I.Q. test until the end of other tests as an “economical” decision.  This logic didn’t seem to agree with normal operating concepts, but rather was taken as a reason to ask for another continuance later, if the test doesn’t get completed before the scheduled court date.

Gray told the court that she doesn’t intend to use the state hospital for the test, but rather has chosen someone with a government contract, that will be entering the field of private practice in July.

Deen told the court that she just “doesn’t want to create a witness for the state,” implying that such a test would work more in the prosecution’s favor than that defense’s.

Gray said that the statute calls for such a test to be done “as soon as practicable”, not as soon a possible.  She suggested that she may request a test in September, which will likely leave the prosecution no time to have another test done.

She also presented several motions that dealt with such issues as to the death penalty being cruel and unusual punishment, that the capitol murder statute overlaps with the first degree murder, and a motion to quash based on the proceedings being unconstitutional, which were basically denied.

The definition of the “value of human life” was answered by Deen saying that Riley “lures Hampton out there with the pretense of repairing a building, shoots him in the back with a shotgun, kills him, and robs him”.  Judge Gibson granted this motion, and said that the “value of human life” had been explained.

Gray’s other motions dealt with issues such as prosecutorial conduct, deathqualifiedjury, preventing the jury’s disbursal and exposure to the victim’s family, request for a cross-section of community for the jury, and a request to allow opening statements prior to the penalty phase, as  well as issues dealing with the legalities of “mitigating” and “aggravating” in reference to motions and prosecutorial issues.

Overall the issue of Riley’s I.Q. test, or lack thereof, seemed to be the most controversial issue of the day, which Deen described as “laying behind the log.”

The next day for legal proceedings in this case will be in mid-July.


 The following story posted on April 21, 2008.

Gary Riley in Court Today in Bobby Hampton Murder 

Gary Riley, the man charged with the capital murder of Bobby Hampton, was present in the Drew County Circuit Court today for Judge BynumGibsonto settle some issues with the case.

Latrece Gray represented Riley from the public defenders commission, while Thomas Deen represented the state.

Early in the hearing, both attorneys had to be “death qualified”. 

Other items brought before the court included that information that the state crime lab has not provided the “final autopsy report”, although they have sent in a “preliminary” version.

All law enforcement officers were instructed to provide all “field notes” from the case to the prosecuting attorney’s office, who will forward them to the defense counsel.

The defense has 14 days to file documentation as to whether they will intend to use “insanity” or “IQ issues” as a part of their case.   

The defense wanted “work of experts” (testimony of expert witnesses) protected, Judge Gibson ruled that verbal comments are protected, but written or documented details may be disputed.

The defense also wanted a motion passed which would limit contact between the State and the defendant, while the State claimed that the wording Ms. Gray chose, “wouldn’t let us ask him if he wanted Sanka to drink with lunch,” according to Mr. Deen.  Judge Gibson instructed Deen to re-write the motion.

Both sides were instructed to dictate whatever witness notes that they planned to use, and provided copies to the other side within 14 days.

The omnibus hearing will take place late in May, the pre-trial hearing and hearing for motions will be heard in July.  The actually court date will be set in late September.


The following story posted on February, 19, 2008


Tuesday morning, Gary Riley, who is charged withcapitolmurder in the death of Bobby Hampton. Pled “not guilty” to the charges against him, in the Drew County Circuit Court.

The “plea and arraignment hearing” is an opportunity for a plea of “guilty or not guilty”, although there are other plea options.

Riey is represented by the public defenders office, including attorneys Steven Porch and Gary Potts. The state was represented by Zach Vaughn.

Rileysattorneys were meeting with him after the hearing to “see where he stands”.

They also notified the court that if following a “mental evaluation”, someone is found to be “below on on certain level”, then “the death penalty is obsolete”


Published February 15, 2008

Rev. Bobby Lee Hampton, 54 of Monticello, AR,  was a native of Bradley County, but a resident of Monticello for the past 31 years, a building contractor and a member of Mt. PeliumAMEChurch. He was preceded in death by his father, John Henry Hampton, and three brothers, Johnnie M. Green, Henry L. Hampton & Johnny Ray Hampton.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Rev. Thelma Hampton, one son, Jason, wife Stephanie Williams of Little Rock, AR, one daughter, April, husband Rob Kindell of Bellvue, IL, his mother, Annie Hampton of Warren, AR, five brothers: Otis Hampton of Chicago, IL, Gerald & John B. Hampton both of St. Louis, MO, Rev. Eddie, wife Francis Hampton & Freddie, wife Ester Hampton all of Warren, AR, five sisters: Sadie Harding, Ruthie, husband Donald Childs, Judy Hampton & Mary Hampton all of Warren, AR &
Vera Barrow of Chicago, IL, and two grandchildren.
Funeral services are Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 11:00 AM at Pilgrim Rest AME Church with Presiding Elder J.R. Hooper, officiating. Pallbearers are Earnest Green, Clyde Hemphill, Leonard Purifoy, Theodore Hampton, Kenneth Newton & Earnest Newton. Honorary pallbearers are his brothers and Herman Hampton. Burial in Mt. Pelium Cemetery under the directions of Cromwell Funeral Home of Hamburg, AR.


In an effort to keep the segments of the Bobby Hampton Story, MonticelloLive has “stacked” the individual reports together

This story includes a report of the testimony of an investigator with the Arkansas State Police, who describes the scene and setting as it relates to the murder of Bobby Hampton.

Although the descriptions are not extremely graphic in nature, they do cover more detail than MonticelloLive usually covers in it’s daily stories.  Reader’s disgression is advised.

Just after 4 p.m. Monday, February 11, 2008, Drew County Circuit Court was called into session, with the Honorable Judge Bynum Gibson, presiding.

Appearing before the court today was the case of Gary Riley, of Monticello, who is charged with the death of Bobby Hampton, of Monticello, who disappeared from his home on January 8.

First on the agenda before Judge Gibson, was to determine “probable cause” to arrest Riley.

Arkansas State Police Investigator, Roger McLemore, who has been involved in the case since January 17, testified on behalf of the state.

McLemore told the court,  that Bobby Hampton’s body was found behind a mobile home, being used as a deer camp on Garnett Road, 10.5 miles north of Monticello, Saturday morning.

Mr. Hampton had injuries to his back, that appeared to have been caused by a shotgun blast.  The scene led investigators to determine that Hampton had been measuring a window, because lying on the ground in the same area, were a carpenter’s square and a tape measure.

Lying under Mr. Hampton’s body was an envelope, that had Riley’s name on it.

When Riley made a statement to McLemore, he told the investigator that he and Hampton had been partners, and that Hampton had taken some of his tools.  Riley also said that he had loaned Hampton $750, and when Riley asked for it back, Hampton declined to re-pay him.

Court testimony showed that Riley was carrying a 20 gauge, double-barrel shotgun in his truck.

After killing Mr. Hampton, the state told the court that Riley removed the wallet from Mr. Hampton’s pocket, along with it’s contents ($7).

Riley then drove a short way down the road, and threw the billfold away.

After making his statement admitting to the killing of Hampton, Riley took McLemore back to the area, and even showed the investigator where the billfold was thrown away, and still remained.

Judge Gibson asked if Riley’s story had changed during the investigation, to which McLemore answered that it had.

Judge Gibson agreed that there was adequate evidence to find probable cause for the arrest of Gary Riley. 


During the “first appearance” portion of the hearing, Judge Gibson explained Riley’s rights to him and appointed a team of public defenders to represent him.  His attorneys include Bing Colvin, Steven Porch, and Gary Potts. 

Judge Gibson explained that the Capitol Murder charge carries a sentence of the “death penalty” or “life without parole.”

Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen told the court that Riley wasn’t eligible to bond out, because of the “aggravating circumstances” involved in the commission of the murder and robbery.

Deenalsotold the Judge that the case met the qualifications of a death penalty case, and that the prosecution was pursuing that as an option.

Judge Gibson agreed that Riley is not eligible to bond out, and set his plea and arraignment hearing date to take place next week.


The information below was posted on MonticelloLive just before Gary Riley’s Court hearing to determine “probable cause” and “first appearance”.

The body of Bobby Hampton, the Monticello man who disappeared from his home over a month ago, was found, Saturday, north of Monticello, near Garnett Road.

Gary Riley, age 51, of Monticello, a former co-worker and friend of Mr. Hampton, has been arrested and charged with capital murder, aggravated robbery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The Arkansas State Police served as the arresting agency, with the full cooperation of the Drew County Sheriff’s Dept. and the Monticello Police Dept.

Riley has worked in the field of construction and sub-contracting.

Riley is scheduled to appear in court for his “first appearance hearing” late this afternoon.

MonticelloLive will be there, and will post an updated report, soon after the hearing.

Check back on MonticelloLive for details, as they become available, including the results of Riley’s hearing.

73 Responses to “Judge Denies Gary Riley’s Request to Change Guilty Plea in Murder Trial”

  1. This is horrible! I hate this for his family and friends.

  2. minister says:

    I’ll contuine to pray for all. And remeber the BIBILE says let justice flow like an ever flowing mighty stream. And as being a minister I believe justice will be serve. Just keep our family in all prays as we do the same, SO PRAY FOR US AS WE GROW STRONGER FOR THE LORD!

  3. tr33_63_fan says:

    This is absolutely terrible. I know that everyone was looking for this man and for it to end this way is absolutely heartbreaking, not just for his family but im sure for his friends as well…I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers,minister. Just know that this is another stepping stone in life and even though it seems like its not going to get better, GOD is carrying you in his arms, because he knows that you are weak at this point.

  4. LeeLa says:

    Does anyone know where they found Mr Hamilton?

  5. Frances Hampton says:

    Bobby is my brother-in- law. I would like to say the family appreciates all the love and support we have been shown through this entire ordeal. We pray God’s strength to carry us on.

  6. Rev. Michael Binns, Sr. says:

    Like others, there are so many unanswered questions. One question in my mind is what took this man so long to come forward with the truth? I am sure he has family. He has now destroyed the life of not only the Hampton family, but his family as well.We have prayed and waited for God to come through, and He did! Now justice must be served. The Lord in His word, teaches us “Vengenance is mine”As Christians we must be be obedient and let the Lord do His work!

    The community is upset but I ENCOURAGE all readers to let the Justice system take care of this crime. God all ready has!

    You read about missing people all the time and it breaks my heart, but to know some one personally right here in our own city of Monticello, brings to mind the question. Will there be another missing person in this city? All of these occurence seem to stem from television where there are so many copy cat crimes! It Jesus can’t fix these problems, nobody can.

    My prayers go out to the family. To you the readers, know that we are living in perilous times, and the last days are upon us! If ever there was a time we needed the Lord. THE TIME IS NOW!

  7. Rev. Michael Binns, Sr. says:

    Frances, you are correct people in general will not verify information. Not only in this case but in 95% of any thing. The problem Frances, and you know this s well as I do.PEOPLE LIKE TO GOSSIP! There last concern is #1 Do Ihave all the fact. #2 Consider the source from which the information came from.#3 They want to be the first to give breaking news. They are not reporters but again GOSSIPERS! Even reporters get stories wrong.#4 There is no regard for incorrect information that is repeated that might impact the family. I am so sorry for this. Pray Frances and keep on praying. Jesus is on the main line call Him up and tell him what you want.

    To this minister who gave out the wrong information about Bobby’s mother. Maybe you should check your sermons also before you deliver them. We would not want a soul to be lost because of misinformation.After all we are the Shepherds leading the sheep! How sad it would be if we led one sheep astray due to the facts whether Bibical or not!

  8. "Rhonda" former monticellonian says:

    I am so very sorry to hear the outcome of this occurence. I had prayed that this story would have a positive outcome. My prayers will continue to be with you.

  9. Karen W. says:

    My prayers are with you, family.

  10. Ronda Best says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this. My prayers are with the family.

  11. Kathy says:

    Why Gary? WHY?

  12. Betty H.. says:

    Pray for garys family as well, they are all devastated and in shock.Its not their fault.He has a good family

  13. Brenda_07 says:

    We all NEED to PRAY for both families cause they both are hurting by what all has happened cause that is what GOD would want us to do. It is all devastating and shocking but GOD makes no mistakes and he has all the POWER and GLORY that we all need to get through the best and worst of times……………..

  14. Linda says:

    Especially pray for both of the mothers. Bobbys mother is in the hospital and Garys mother is devastated.
    She loved Bobby too.May both families find the strength in God to get through this.

  15. Denise Burton says:

    I am so sorry to hear of this tragedey. My prayers are with the famiy .
    May you seek God’s strength in this time of sorrow.

  16. jimmie sue says:

    Hi Family, you know that I have been praying for you and i will keep on. My heart does go out because you know that i love you all and i’m part of this family. I will keep in touch. LOVE you all.

  17. Rev. Michael Binns, Sr. says:

    No one is blaming Gary’s Family for his actions. He is responsible for what he did and he alone! iF We Train our children As the Bible Has instructed us then our mission has been completed.To the mother of Gary, if you have done your part in raising this young man to love thy neighbor as thy self. and to do unto unto others as you would have them do unto you.And finally you haved trained him in the ways of the Lord to know right from wrong then I say to you, lift up your head. The blood is not on you hands. As a mother I know you are deeply saddened, because this is still your child.
    When you have raised a child and they become adults,again they are responsible for their own actions! You are not at fault! I will pray that the Lord will help you to bear this cross, just as the Hamptom family must do.
    Jesus promised to never forsake us or leave us.In fact He said come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden, come, and I will give you rest.

    BE NOT DISMAYED, GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF ALL OF YOU. I claim it in the name of the Father, Son and the holy Ghost.

  18. K. Jordan says:

    It deeply saddens me for this ordeal to have such a tragic end. My prayers go out to both families. God is the only one who can comfort them at this time and help them to carry on.

  19. Betty H says:

    Mr Binns, I didn t mean to imply that anyone was blaming Garys family. I know his mother personally and I know she is devastated as well. She had never had any trouble out of Gary when he was growing up. There are many victims of this tragedy, the worse of course bing Bobby and HIS family. I’m just saying that his family needs your prayers too. Thank-You Betty

  20. Jo Ann says:

    I pray strongly for the Hampton family. It really bothers me that so many young black men in Monticello was blamed for his disappearance.

  21. Jo Ann says:

    I would like to thank all the volunteers that came out to help with the search several weeks ago , and also Pepsi, Piggly Wiggly and local churches(First Missionary Baptist, Trinity, Holmes Chapel, Morning Star) that donated food,drinks so that the volunteers could be fed.

  22. Lee says:

    I don’t believe law enforcement was “blaming” the young men in our community. What they were doing was doing their jobs. They needed to check up on each and every lead, rumor, and story that they heard in order to find Mr. Hampton. Would you rather that they didn’t follow up on all leads? If this were the case then the person who did this crime would probably not have been arrested. The Law Enforcement officers involved in this case worked hard, long hours and deserve a big thank-you, job well done. Prayers go out to the Hampton Family.

  23. Rev. Michael Binns, Sr. says:

    Betty H,

    Thank you for your clarification of you response about Gary’s mom.
    I will certaily pray for her. I realize that she is hurting! and through this ordel it is good to know she has a friend like you. Know matter what the tragedy or who comits it. All are in need of prayer.

    What happen to Bobby has broken me up inside, But I cant hate nor will I!

    The Bible speaks clearly”If any man hate his fellow man he cannot see the kingdom of Heaven” When the books are open we shall all be judged.

    AsI am praying for the Hampton family, I will pray for Gary that he will seek forgivness from the Lord. Iwill pray for his mom as this is her son ,and even tho what he did was wrong and it hurts. I have enough of Christ in me to know that she is hurting also. Finally I wiil pray for you for standing by a friend in a time of need.


  24. Tammi Hamilton Nowlin says:

    I so sincerely sorry for the Hampton Family’s loss. It is so tragic. I have known this family almost all of my life as I have worked with them, attended school with them and am friends with them. The Hampton’s are very good people. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May God Bless and be with you during this time.

  25. Leslie Watkins (Smith) says:

    This is just terrible for all parties involved. My heart goes out to the Hampton family as I went to school with and became friends with their daughter-April. Mr. Bobby was a very gentle, warm spirited man who loved his family. My fondest memories of him will always be the times we had sleepovers at their house for April’s birthday and he would load us all up in his Blazer and take us to the Pine Bluff mall. Just him and the girls. LOL He is an awesome man who will be terribly missed.

    May Gary’s family as well as the Hamptons find strength, comfort, peace, and closure on this matter during this great time of need. May everyone be able to get through this.

  26. Lee Ann says:

    This is a tragedy for both families as well as the city of Monticello. My prayers go out to all affected by this. I know both Bobby and Gary. It is so hard to understand why this happened. I pray that we can all come together to support and love both families.

  27. KeKe says:

    First and foremost my heart goes out to Mrs. Hampton and Family,Mr. Riley’s family and to everyone in this community. Let us not forget that we are all God’s children, be slow to speak and not to entertain gossip.
    To JoAnn your first comment could not have been stated any better than you put it.
    To Mr. Binns continue to let your knowledge of the Word continue to be heard we all need it.
    I am not singling out any particular email response those two just really touched my heart!
    May God Bless everyone that reads this email!!

  28. Lucas says:

    My heart goes out to the Hampton family, they did not deserve to have to go through this pain. Although people like Ronda Best think that we should have sympathy for the accused family and not the Hampton’s, I have no sympathy for them. Their family member is the one that caused all of this tragedy. As for Lee’s comments that local law enforment should be given a big thank-you, For What? battling over who had jursdiction instead of solving this case in a timely manner, or for not Mr. Gober not releasing Riley’s name to KATV when he was arrested. We know had the situation been reversed not only would Mr. Hamptons name been released but his photo as well. The state police deserves our thanks because things did not get solved until they came aboard.

  29. Minister Norma Minter says:

    Heartfelt sympathy to the families affected by this tragedy. May the God of comfort who comforts us all be with you during this most difficult time. To my friends, Pastor Eddie and First Lady Hampton, Pastor Thelma and the rest of the family, you are in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless.

    May I suggest to the community, please use this space as a means of condolences and not an open forum on the characters of the persons involved. The family needs our prayers more than anything.

  30. Nannette says:

    I am related to the Riley’s in a round about way, though I haven’t seen any of them in so many years. It is really hard for me to imagine the small, sweet little boy that I knew doing such a torrid thing. He must have some demons that no one knew. I will pray for both families that they may find some peace. Gary’s mother is a fine lady and I know she is devastated. I still cannot believe this has happened

  31. Dragon's Heart says:

    First, I would like to send my sympathies to the families that are all stricken by this tragedy. And a tragedy it is. Second, it’s a shame that “Barney Fife” and his boys couldn’t do their job without outside help. But hey there has never been a good sheriff in the 40 years I’ve been around. It astounds me that here I live in a city and the cops can get there man or woman within hours to days, but a small place like Monticello…Come On… Third, again I am so sorry for your loss, may you see each other in your next lives. Blessed Be.

  32. Joe Burgess says:

    Usually I don’t interfere with the direction that a chain of comments takes, but I do want to respond to the statement about law enforcement.

    Sheriff Gober told me in mid-January, that due to the overwhelming number of interviews being conducted, he was requesting the Arkansas State Police become involved in the investigation.

    I don’t know if, or when KATV may have contacted anyone, but when I received a telephone tip that Mr. Hampton’s body had been found, I called Sheriff Gober. He was at the crime scene, and confirmed that “a body, believed to be Bobby Hampton has been recovered,” and the general area of the crime scene.

    He told me that no more information was available at that time.

    When I called him back 2 hours later, Sheriff Gober told me Riley’s name, the list of charges he was facing, and answered the rest of my questions.

    I knew by the wording of his first statement that everything except for the search being over, was still an ongoing investigation.

    A later visit with Sheriff Gober told me that Riley was “arrested” at 2:15, Saturday afternoon. However, Riley had been being interviewed, prior to his arrest.

    After the arrest, Sheriff Gober and State Police Investigator Scott Woodward went to the Hampton home to tell Mrs. Thelma that her husband had been found, and that Gary Riley had been arrested for his murder.

    Throughout the investigation, MonticelloLive has had excellent cooperation from Sheriff Gober, Chief Rosegrant of the Monticello Police Dept, and investigators from both of their agencies, as well as State Police Investigators.

    As for “battling over jurisdiction”, I posted Sheriff Gober’s comments about the case coming to an end yesterday.
    His exact words, as quoted from yesterday’s post were “We appreciate the cooperation we have received from Chief Rosegrant and the Monticello Police Dept., the Arkansas State Police, and the many concerned citizens about Bobby Hampton’s safety.
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mrs. Thelma, and Bobby’s family and friends.”

  33. PH says:

    First of all this whole thing is awful& hard to understand. It is time to come together for the family of Mr. Hampton, and also the Riley family the family is loosing someone also, they did not choose the hurt they have been dealt because of what one of thier family members did. Why should the family be punished for something GARY RILEY did not them. I am not trying to be ugly just think about it would you be ok if you got blamed for any and everything someone in your family does or has done? I sure dont want to be judged by what someone I am kin to has done. MR RILEY WILL BE THE ONE THAT HAS TO ANSWER FOR HIS ACTIONS NOT HIS FAMILY.

    Second, the comment about Barney Fife…there were many days and nights Monticello Police Dept and Drew County Sheriff’s Office were out interviewing people searching around town, back roads everywhere they could look. Does it really matter who came to help as long as the job was done. There was a search set up for a Sunday morning so to the people that are fussing about the police not doing there job DID YOU COME HELP IN THE SEARCH, I know of serveral city and county employees that were there along with many others.

    Its not a time to point fingers, its time to pray for those hurting. I personally do not know either family, but I offer my condolences to the Hampton family. I pray that the Riley family and Hampton family will turn to the Lord for the extra push they need to understand and move forward day by day. You will be in my prayers.

  34. PH says:

    Thank you Joe for explaining what really has been said and done. People always want to find negative in everything. And those who dont know how things have to work in this type of situation. You cant just start publishing names until the victims family has been notified, you cant post who you are looking for to arrest for commiting the crime until you try to locate them and have them in jail or who knows what they may do or where they may go. If people will think about it that the only way it can be done. If it was a memeber of thier family the wouldnt want to hear it on the news before someone told them in person. I am proud DCSO, MPD and ASP came together to get this solved and it is good to know they can work together to do what they need to do for the town of Monticello.

  35. people12 says:

    I know the hamptons really good they thank u all for the prays and your concerns.Just keep praying

  36. Kasey Earl says:

    “…Forgive us of our debts as we forgive our debtors.”…wow. If only we would realize how much our debts are.

  37. D. Jordan says:

    My prayers go out to both families and the entire city of Monticello. If ever it is a time to come together it is now. No matter what happens God is still in control.

  38. Betty H says:

    Lucas says: ” Although people like Ronda Best think that we should have sympathy for the accused family and not the Hampton’s, I have no sympathy for them. Their family member is the one that caused all of this tragedy.”

    Thats really sad Lucas yes, their FAMILY member NOT THEM. They are devastated as well and not only did Garys mother love Bobby too but they are a good family. You should try to find smypthy for them as well. No one means “and not the Hamptons”. Of course people have tons of sympthy for them first and foremost.

    To Mr Binns: I am glad you don’t hate. I have always believed hate only hurts the person hating. Hate will eat a person from the inside out.I also agree with what KeKe says about you and I hope you will continue to do what she asks. Especailly to Lucas. Help him understand.
    Thank You, Betty

  39. SH says:


    Thank you for setting the record straight on the actions of the Drew Co. Sheriff’s Dept. It is so wrong to blame this office who did so much to find this man.

  40. Lucas says:

    Obviously Betty you have decided to read more into my words than were actually said. I do not hate. The fact that you would write saying that we should pray for Gary’s family and that he is a good man. Ms. Betty good men do not go around shooting people in the back. You are the one with the issues not me. I do apologize to the Monticello Police Department for putting them in the same category with the Sheriff department and I take issue with Dragon comparring the sheriff department to Barney Fife. It is an insult to Barney Fife.

  41. Joe Burgess says:


    I was polite when I responded to your first comment, but you need to realize that this case is an important issue to many people, and not a one-liner contest.

    Although some readers who leave comments may “wander” at times, they all seem to have a point to make.

    If you have A SPECIFIC POINT to make feel free to do so.

    The impression that many readers are getting, is that you just have a grudge against the Sheriff’s Dept.

    I decline to speculate where that grudge may have come from.

    Joe Burgess

  42. brandon says:

    Well stated Joe.

    This is a sad situation for both families. My prayers go out to both families involved. It is a real problem when someone (Lucas) goes around bashing people just to be heard. It is obvious that the Sheriff and his entire department along with the Monticello Police Department and the State Police did everything they could to solve this case. Let’s give them credit for a job well done.

  43. Billie Gober says:

    Lucas & Dragon Heart: Enough is enough. I ask that you both realize that Sheriff Gober has a wife and children, who also live in this community. Your comments are unnecessary, childish, and certainly not very Christianly. It may be impossible for you, but can you keep your unkind words to yourself. If you have a problem with the Sheriff or his Department, I know that he would be more than happy to discuss whatever your promblem is with you. You should not take a tragedy like Mr. Hampton’s death and use it to say unkind, untrue words about others. Be a man (or woman) and speak face to face with the one you have an issue with. Our prayes are with the Hampton family.

  44. Lucas says:

    It is obvious i made a point, if not, the author himself would not be responding. I do not have a grudge against the Sheriff Department. I have never had a run-in with any of the officers. I can remember the three previous Sheriff’s. If you were to see any of them on the street, not only would they speak to you when you spoke to them but they would also shake your hand. Mr. Gober seems to have issues with certain people in the community. I have a right to my opinion just like you Ms. Gober. This is the last comment I will make on this subject.

  45. af says:

    I just want to remind everyone that we as Christians should not judge anyone, that is for God to do, not us. We will probably never know what happened out there behind that trailer, or why it occurred. These two men had to be brothers in order for them to be partners and I am sure they loved each other as well as the other’s family. Can we please be adults and pray for both families? Be careful for what you say cause it may come back and bite you hard. Pray until something happens!

  46. Betty H says:

    Lucas, you said I read more into your words than were actually said.
    Well, Lucas You must not be reading my words at all because I never said “he was a good man”
    I said “he’s from a good family and they need prayers as well.”
    My only issues are helping my family deal with a double tradgey because we knew them both!
    I WILL pray for both families and I WILL pray for Gary too. I will pray for Bobby.
    Read posts carefully before you reply.

  47. VK says:

    My sympathy goes out to the Hampton family. In the midst of it all God is still a merciful and loving God.


  49. Collegiate says:

    First, My heart and prayers are with the Hampton family and all parites affected by this tragedy. I have been reading the different post and it bothers me that at a time like this in our community we still can not come together as one and support one another instead of finding reasons to insult one another. Let’s just take a moment to realize that the family members are probably reading along just as well. Let’s just focus on giving them words of encouragement and respect other people’s opinion.
    FIRST AMENDMENT equals freedom of speech. People have the right to say whatever, however thast doesn’t make it right. So I am asking for us to remember what this is about, a tragedy for families of the community that need our SUPPORT.

  50. albert says:

    while i feel for hamptons family why should rileys family have to take blame for this. two people are involved in the crime. mr. hamptons family are the ones that are dealin with a death, and i for one can feel their pain. but the riley family is hurting to. when a tragedy like this happens the accused family has to deal with heartbreak to. why did it happen? we dont know. pray for both families.

  51. Stella says:

    I know the heartbreak that Gary’s family is feeling. How can a person who was raised in a Christian enviroment go so wrong? I know his mother to be a Christian woman. His grandparents, too. What happened to Gary? Was he on drugs? I can’t imagine the person I know doing such a thing.

  52. Stef says:

    I’ve read a lot, and i’ve seen a lot. Oh Lord! how I pray for this community and your people. Lord Keep (BOTH) families in your secure arms. Forgive us of our sins lord. For we know not what we do lord jesus. I didn’t respond to anyone or anything said because jesus that’s them. I love you and I respect your plan. Lord have mercy on US lord. In jesus name I pray AMEN! To the family may God keep you forever and ever amen.

  53. JUST PRAY says:

    When it’s all said and done, we must PRAY. May the peace of God that passeth all understanding be with both families now and forever. Remember the word of the Lord says Pray without ceasing. Now is the time like never before to Pray. After all thats going on I serve a true and living God who is faithful to all that call upon His name. To the Hampton family be encouraged. For the word of the Lord says Lift up your head all ye gates and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors and the king of glory shall come in.

  54. Shocked says:

    I heard it, but I kept saying, “It can’t be true…not the person I went to school with. No Way.” Then I found this website, and I realize it is true. Gary took the life of a man that was obviously a well-loved and wonderful human being. How your town and your people must be hurting. I don’t live anywhere near your town, but please know that prayers are going up for all of you. I pray God will give you his healing strength.

  55. KeKe says:

    I am sooo sick and tired of this country using this Mental thing to cover up what has been done. This is one of the main reasons so many crimes are being committed because they know all they have to say is I was not in my right mind perhaps!! How can one admit to a crime then later say “Not Guilty” I have a mental problem!! We Americans need to take a stand for what is right!
    Has this man ever been considered mentally ill? If not why now?
    God Bless us ALL!!

  56. Stella says:

    I’m sure there is some mental issues here, or he couldn’t have done what he did. Not that I think it should be used as a defense. My feelings are if he did it once, he could do it again, insane or not. But, I don’t think he is insane.

  57. Jo Ann says:

    As the saying goes LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRER. Not GUITLY,that’s a bunch of garbage. This was pre-mediated MURDER. And speaking of mental issues, that is just his safety net from being excuted. Riley you did the crime be man of enough to take what’s coming.
    Do unto others as you would have them to do to you.

  58. Thank you, Jo Ann! First off.. he confessed to the entire murder and even took the police to the crime scene and showed them where he had thrown Bobby Hampton’s wallet! He give them explicit details about where and how he found Hampton and why he went there in the first place! How in the world can he sit there with a clear conscience and try to get off with saying that he isn’t competent to stand trial!! That is a crock of garbage! But we must remember that it isn’t our place to judge him for the horrendious crime that he committed,.. God say that we shouldn’t break his commandments and one is “THOU SHALT NOT KILL!” Like Mr. Binns said earlier..”Vengenance is mine saith the Lord..and I will repay. I sure don’t want to be in Mr.Riley’s place when he has to go before God to answer for this crime. I sure hope that he(Mr. Riley) has made his peace with God and got his life right..cause God is gonna have His way with this! Nan Carter..Monticello, Arkansas

  59. MMR says:

    I am a friend of Gary Riley and family from Gillett, Ar…many years ago. I worked at the Drugstore across the street from Riley’s grocery. (1967)

    I am devasted about this. Mr. and Mrs. Riley are wonderful. I do not understand why this happened.

    I pray for both families. This is a terrible thing for all.

  60. Chozyn2 says:

    I just want to encourage the prayers for both families. LET GO of the pointing fingers & LET GOD….He has the final say. Sweep around your own back door before sweeping around somebody elses. Its only 3 people that know the absolute whole truth of the story (God, the killer & the victim). All things happen for a reason.
    Learn from this situation, take time for your family members. Take time to say I LOVE YOU. You never know when it might be you last. Never put off tomorrow what you can do today….tomorrow isn’t promise. If you don’t have a personal relationship with God, get right people time is running out.

    The tongue is the smallest part of out body but also does the most damage….so be careful what you say to whom you say it to. You never know who’s watching listening or who’s related to who……

    Much prayer much power…..Be blessed….

  61. HOW says:


  62. member of fAMILY says:

    The public tends to forget that there is more than one side to a story and in this case there are two different families that are having to deal with this.
    My prayers are with Mr.Hampton’s family, but my prayers are also with my own family who are still trying to answer the questions of why, and how could he. I have no qualms with anyone out there, everyone is entitled to their own oppinion, but we all need to stop and realize that with every victim there is a family left behind and with every one who has committed a crime there is a family left behind. both families hurt and both families are left with questions.

  63. sinister says:

    wow, 2 life sentences, they’ll work him everyday til the day he dies in prison

  64. confused citizens says:

    Mr. Riley pleaded guilty to killing Mr.Bobby Hampton and he just got life without and he admitted killing this man. But why is it that Mr. Isom was not offered a plea but got death right off the top? Seems like the is a ? to be concerned about. The system is what it is messed up in this county.

  65. Lucas says:

    The only advice I have for Mr. Riley is “Don’t drop the soap”

  66. Brandon says:

    “guilty of aggravated robbery”

    Are you kidding me?

    I guess I didn’t realize there are various levels of murder.

  67. Shocked at WHY??? says:

    Well lets stop and think ” confused citizen” about the difference in the Isom case there were 2 old helpless people that he torchered for hours and left to die after going through hell on hearth. He also did not admit he did it but DNA admitted it for him and a jury had to sit through a long grusome trial before deciding his sentence there is a very very large difference in these cases. So now stop and think NO ISOM “did not get DEATH right off the top” it was way more long and drawn out and still trying to deny everthing BUT thankfuly DNA was there to prove it. Why you are a confused citizen amazes me… stop and think about both incidents then you will see how they were different. Mr. Riley did plea guilty but Isom NEVER admitted he was guitly. You cant plead to something you wont admit to doing!!!!!So if you are confused why Isom didnt take a plea, why dont you ask him since he was the ONLY one that could admit to the crime before he could take a plea. I do agree sometimes our system is very messed up but as far as these two cases look at the people that did the hurting torchering and killing that it whats is messed up with this. The system did its job with taking care of these two cases.

  68. jason says:

    Agreed. Although both of these cases are horrendous and we should sympathize with the families of the victims and suspects, the Isom case is partciularly disgusting and no form of punishment that he might receive on earth could be equal to what he deserves.

  69. Joe Burgess says:

    Since there are 2 “qualifiers” for capital murder, and since Riley implied that he didn’t intend to kill Mr. Hampton; when Mr. Hampton died as result of the “aggrated robbery”, Riley was then guilty of capital murder.

    Joe Burgess

  70. just wondering says:

    Mr.Hampton had no choice to die or live at the gun of Riley. He ment to shoot him in the back.Riley didn’t want to die.I would bet while he’s in prison there will be times he wishes he was dead when BIG BUBBA gets to him.JUSTICE WAS DONE this time.Now you can R.I.P. Mr.Hampton.I pray for both family.Sad as it is. I have to say a prayer for Riley, cause the rest of his life will be a liveing HELL.

  71. confused citizens says:

    Where you at the trial and did the DNA say that or that’s what they wanted? If you were they u really would have known the true. The system is not fair and the system needs to do a better job and get the right facts before judging peoples. There could have been a million peoples hair that they had so, sorry it did not really say that it was Isom’s hair. Get your facts right. like I said. Why dont you go and asked him what really happened. I was there at the trail and I know how it went. Everyone sees things different. Yea you know the system is not right glad you admitted that.

  72. Shocked at WHY??? says:

    First and foremost I was not trying to be ugly to you in anyway only trying to explain how the two cases were so very different. Both cases have families, victims and a person that was put on trial. I can’t imagine being ANY of those people and pray for each and every one of those involved in anyway. As far as your question, Yes as a matter of fact I was at the trial everyday from the time court was called to order until the time it recessed for the day and I still agree a lot of the time our system is not right but our system didn’t cause this the jury was presented all the facts over several long days and found him guilty and YES DNA proved it go back and look at the possibilities of it being someone else one more time. Also no this is not what anyone wanted from the time either crime occurred until the end of each of these cases.

  73. sue says:

    He’s lucky he hasn’t gotten the needle yet. Thank God the judge did right on this murder.

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