For Immediate Release
Contact: Nancy Leuenhagen
Smith, 36, and Goodlow, 37, were convicted of First Degree Murder, Home Invasion, and Burglary after a jury trial last September. Both men were previously tried and convicted for the same crimes in 2009, however, the convictions were reversed by the Nevada Supreme Court due to improper comments by the trial judge during jury selection. The case was later transferred to Judge Freeman’s department for re-trial.
Riley was a tourist visiting Reno with his girlfriend, 23-year-old Caroline VanLoock; the couple was staying at the Lido Inn in Downtown Reno. Smith and Goodlow, both from Stockton, California, were returning to their room in the early morning hours of May 14, 2007, when Goodlow exchanged words with Riley, who was on the balcony of his second-story room. Smith and Goodlow armed themselves with pistols from Goodlow’s vehicle and attempted to break into Riley’s room, violently kicking the door and breaking the front window of the room.
While VanLoock retreated for cover in the bathroom, Riley – who was repeatedly crying out for help – used his own body to barricade the door against Smith and Goodlow’s attack. Smith and Goodlow menaced Riley with their guns through the broken window and demanded that Riley open the door; when Riley failed to comply with their demands, Smith shot Riley in the chest with his .40 caliber pistol. Goodlow also fired his pistol at Riley, striking him in the leg. Smith and Goodlow fled the scene in Goodlow’s car. Although VanLoock tried to summon help, Riley died from his chest wound shortly after Smith and Goodlow fled.
Goodlow, who initially eluded police after a short vehicle pursuit, was later apprehended near Downtown Reno. Smith was arrested the following day in Stockton on a murder warrant.
In a letter to the court, Royce’s mother, Diane Riley, said her family had “unfairly been given a life sentence of pain, emptiness and grief,” and wrote that the defendants “not only took the life of an innocent man, they stole pieces of Royce’s loved one’s hearts as well.” Chief Deputy District Attorney Luke Prengaman argued that the attack on Riley and VanLoock by complete strangers represented “a law-abiding citizen’s worst nightmare,” and that Smith deserved a maximum sentence for terrorizing and murdering Riley. Smith and Goodlow both told the judge that they had remorse for the killing; their lawyers argued that both men should have the opportunity for parole in their 70s.
Because Riley was murdered in the first half of 2007, Smith and Goodlow received life, consecutive sentences for their use of guns. September of 2007, the Nevada Legislature altered the deadly weapon law to allow for reduced sentences in deadly weapon cases.
If you have any questions, you can reach Chief Deputy District Attorney Luke Prengaman at 328-3286.