WAYNE COUNTY, Ill (WEHT) – The man accused of shooting and killing Wayne County Deputy Sean Riley was sentenced to life without parole in accordance with Illinois state law.
Police say Ray Tate shot and killed Deputy Riley on December 29, while Riley was responding to a report of a motorist needing assistance on Interstate 64. Police say after shooting Riley, Tate shot a man and stole his car at a gas station in St. Peters, Missouri and then barricaded himself inside someone’s home in Carlyle, Illinois before he was arrested.
In March, Tate pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder as part of a plea deal. Charges in Missouri are still pending. Earlier this month, authorities say Tate tried to escape from the Jefferson County Jail but was caught before he got away.
Wayne County State’s Attorney Kevin Kakac said the legal process was difficult for local law enforcement, many of whom were Riley’s colleagues, and for the Riley family themselves. Wayne County Sheriff Chris Otey thanked the community for their continued support since the shooting late last year.
Deputy Riley’s family, friends, and colleagues packed the Wayne County courtroom Friday for the sentencing, hearing emotional victim impact statements prepared by Riley’s wife, Leslie, and his sister, Spring Bonney.
While the sentencing did bring some closure to the case, Riley’s family is still dealing with the heartbreaking loss. In a statement following the statement, Bonney said her “innocent brother was given a death sentence and his murderer was given life.”
Bonney says she understands the Illinois judicial system and appreciates that Tate was given the maximum sentence, but she still wonders why Tate was “given any type of life, even in prison.” Bonney asked Illinois lawmakers to “will seriously consider the bills they approve or oppose based on if something like this happened to someone they loved,” adding that she would’ve preferred to see Tate receive the death penalty.
The death penalty in Illinois was repealed in 2011, Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office says anyone convicted of, or pleads guilty to, first-degree murder of a peace officer receives a mandatory sentence of life without parole.