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Helmsburg murder
 
At 13, suspect causes juvenile, adult dilemma
Published on: 04.13.09

Last year, Blade Reed attended elementary school.

Now, at age 13, he spends his days at Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center, accused of murder.

In the early morning of Nov. 15, Blade Reed and his brother, Bennie, 17, rode their bicycles for less than a mile from their rural northwestern Brown County home to 8406 Lick Creek Road to steal alcohol, according to court documents.

Before morning broke, one of the home’s occupants, Richard “Dude” Voland, an 84-year-old Eli Lilly retiree, was dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

His wife, 77-year-old Mary Voland, had been shot in the abdomen, and her neck had been cut with a knife — but she was still alive.

Shortly after 5 a.m., Mary ran out the back door to the nearby home of her sister-in-law, Mary Jane Richards, who called 911.

Authorities allege that Bennie fired both shots, and that Blade cut Mary Voland’s neck.

Both have been charged with murdering Richard Voland and with attempting to murder Mary Voland.

Bennie’s case will be handled in adult court, because Indiana law requires that anyone older than 16 and charged with serious offenses, such as rape, kidnapping and murder, be charged as an adult.

But Blade’s case is causing some consternation among those involved in the justice system: What to do with a 13-year-old who is accused of murder and attempted murder?

Judge’s dilemma

In Indiana, the burden of proof as to whether a juvenile should be tried in juvenile or adult court rests sometimes with the prosecution — but also sometimes with the defense, depending on the offender’s age, the crime and other circumstances.

Sometimes the prosecutor has to prove, among other things, that “the child is beyond rehabilitation under the juvenile justice system.”

In other cases, the defense has to prove that “it would be in the best interests of the child and of the safety and welfare of the community for the child to remain within the juvenile justice system.”

In Blade’s case, the burden rests with the defense because of the charges’ severity.

Blade’s attorney, Jim Roberts of Nashville said that Blade’s case should be handled in juvenile court because it is in his best interest and because nothing in his history says that he poses a danger to society.

Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver said Reed should serve time in an adult prison because the penalties in the juvenile justice system are insufficient for the severity of the crime.

If Blade is found guilty he could:

Serve less than a year if the case remains in juvenile court. Though the judge could impose a longer sentence if the case remains in juvenile court, Blade would be released no later than his 18th birthday.

Face a sentence of at least 45 years in prison if the case remains in adult court.

“I don’t like either of the options here,” Brown Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart said at a recent court hearing after she had listened to both sides.

Blade quietly sat next to Roberts during the hearing, often looking on the floor. He wore black slacks and shoes, a blue-grey camouflage jacket, a white shirt and a tie with diagonal blue and white stripes.

He wore thin metal-frame glasses. He had short, brown hair.

Roberts and Oliver agree on at least one thing: Blade’s case is unusual.

Oliver said in his 16 years prosecuting cases, he had never before charged a 13-year-old with murder.

Roberts said he has not handled a case like this in his 41 years in criminal law.

“This is probably the most difficult case the judge, the prosecutor and (I) will have participated in in our careers,” Roberts said.

Oliver said, “It’s a huge decision for the court, and it’s a tough decision.

“My decision to seek a waiver (to adult court) was not terribly difficult when I considered the crime,” he said.

Balance

Oliver said that in his career he did not recall a juvenile having committed a serious offense without any prior contact with juvenile probation.

Typically, when Oliver determines whether he wants to try to have a juvenile waived to adult court, he pays particular attention to community safety and the crime’s severity.

He said he looks at the juvenile’s prior involvement with the system, whether rehabilitation attempts have worked, whether the juvenile complied with the prescribed rehabilitation and whether other programs have not yet been tried.

In cases in which the prosecution carries the burden of proving that a juvenile is beyond rehabilitation, Oliver said he can think of few situations in which he would seek to have a juvenile offender waived to adult court if that offender has not had any prior contact with juvenile probation.

During the recent waiver hearing, Donna Bishop, professor at Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice, testified that juveniles whose cases remain in the juvenile system are less likely to commit crimes upon their release than juveniles whose cases are waived to adult court.

Bishop said that recidivism rates fell further if the juvenile was especially young and had not previously been in trouble with the law.

Oliver said that Bishop’s testimony does not change Indiana law, which says that the juvenile court “shall waive” Blade’s case “unless it would be in the best interests of the child and of the safety and welfare of the community for the child to remain within the juvenile justice system.”

If Bishop wants to change Indiana law, she should talk to the Legislature, Oliver said.

Roberts said that the Legislature typically reacts to shocking cases by taking away judges’ discretion, which he believes is a mistake.

The Legislature should not make blanket requirements in juvenile cases, he said.

Some 14-year-olds have a mental age of 19, while other 14-year-olds have a mental age of 12, Roberts said. Adolescents’ mental age is not consistent with calendar age.

“Every case is different,” he said.

When legislators enact inflexible rules, it shows that they look at the world through black-and-white lenses, Roberts said.

“But it’s a Technicolor world.”

Twist

In Blade’s case, the law may be even less flexible than Brown County officials initially thought.

Oliver said that the judge is researching whether the law requires that Blade be charged as an adult for the robbery and murder charges — and as a juvenile for the attempted murder charge.

“It’s an odd twist in the law,” Oliver said.

Stewart has ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Blade. A decision on the waiver is not expected until May.

Members of the Voland and Reed families declined to be interviewed.


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Obituaries
See Full List »

Clara M. (Wichmann) Roedl, 101, Peoria, Illinois
  Resident of Brown County Health & Living Community

Eddie E. “Hoss” Wilkerson II, 42, Pendleton
  Native of Brown County, 1991 graduate of BCHS

James E. (Jim) Robinson, 76, Bedford
  Former chief deputy of police for the town of Nashville

  • November 28
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • November 28
    Government Offices CLOSED
  • November 28
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 28
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 29
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 29
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 29
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 29
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 30
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 30
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 1
    BC Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • December 1
    Gnaw Bone Sewage District
    5:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 1
    BC 4-H Council
    7 p.m. 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • December 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 2
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    6 to 7 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • December 2
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission CANCELED
  • December 2
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 2
    BC Chamber of Commerce
    8 a.m. Willow Manor, 72 Willow St.
  • December 2
    Boys Varsity Wrestling
    7 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 3
    Woodworkers Club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 3
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • December 3
    BC Local Emergency Planning Committee
    9 a.m. Ambulance Base, 53 State Road 46 East
  • December 3
    BC Soil & Water District
    5 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • December 4
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 4
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 4
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 4
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 4
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 4
    Reservation deadline for Bald Eagles event
    The Seasons Lodge, 560 State Road 46 East
  • December 5
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • December 5
    Children's fund annual auction
    6 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 5
    Boys JV, Varsity Basketball
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 5
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 6
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 6
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • December 6
    Girls JV, Varsity Basketball
    1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 6
    Boys JV, Varsity Basketball
    4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 6
    'The Polar Express' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 6
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 6
    Church schedules drive-thru Nativity
    6 to 8 p.m. New Life Comm. Church, 1450 State Road 135 North
  • December 6
    Christmas Light Parade slated
    6 p.m. downtown Nashville
  • December 6
    Children look forward to Stuff-a-Stocking
    10 a.m. to 5 p.m. downtown Nashville
  • December 7
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 8
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    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 8
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 9
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 9
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    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • December 9
    CSCD Roads, Security commissions
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. CSCD Office, 8377 Cordry Drive; CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 9
    BC 4-H Fair Board
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  • December 9
    Girls JV, Varsity Basketball
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  • December 10
    Hamblen Fire District
    7 p.m. Hamblen Fire Station, 4650 Sweetwater Trail, Nineveh
  • December 10
    Local Coordinating Council
    8 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Building, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • December 10
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • December 10
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 11
    Go Club meeting Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 11
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 11
    Hickory Ridge center hosts Christmas party
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 2314 Hickory Ridge Lane off Hornettown Road
  • December 12
    Widowed group plans Christmas party
    noon Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • December 12
    BCSP Christmas bird count slated
    8 a.m. BCSP Nature Center, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • December 12
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • December 13
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 13
    Craft gallery hosts open house
    10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Brown County Craft Gallery, 58 E. Main St.
  • December 13
    Community band to perform free Christmas concert
    7 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 13
    Church to host free classical guitar concert
    7 p.m. Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship, 602 State Road 135 North
  • December 14
    Church celebrates 30 years
    10 a.m. New Life Comm. Church, 1450 State Road 135 North
  • December 14
    Therapy dogs listen to children read
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 14
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 16
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane
  • December 24
    Candlelight service set for Christmas Eve
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • December 24
    Cordry church hosts candlelight service Christmas Eve
    7 p.m. Church of the Lakes, 8844 Nineveh Road