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Helmsburg murder
 
Judge weighs sending Reed, 13, to adult court
Published on: 02.24.09

NASHVILLE — A 13-year-old murder suspect is awaiting a judge’s decision on whether he should be tried as an adult.

Blade Reed is accused in the murder of Richard “Dude” Voland, 84, of Helmsburg, and charged with attempting to kill Voland’s 77-year-old wife, Mary. Authorities consider him an accomplice of his brother, Bennie Reed, 17, who is charged as an adult with murder and other crimes.

Blade Reed on Wednesday sat through a three-hour hearing in which attorneys argued over the pros and cons of keeping him in the juvenile justice system versus charging him as an adult.

“I don’t like either of the options here,” Brown Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart said at the meeting’s conclusion.

Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver said the roughly one-year to five-year sentence Reed could receive if convicted in juvenile court would be too low given the severity of the crime.

“Imagine the sense of safety in our community when this young man who committed a murder of his neighbor is released after 18 months,” Oliver said.

Reed’s public defender, Jim Roberts, argued that Reed needs education and rehabilitation and that “caging” a 13-year-old in adult prison would influence criminal behavior.

“It seems to me there is a huge risk this child will be exploited,” Roberts said.

Stewart said Oliver satisfied state law requirements to waive Reed to adult court, which include that any murder suspect older than 10 should be tried as an adult.

However, she said she has “grave concerns” because Reed will be released back into society if he is convicted, regardless of whether he’s tried as a juvenile or an adult.

Stewart said she needs to listen to police interviews of the Reed brothers, including one in which, according to court documents, Blade Reed confessed to his participation in the crimes.

She said she will issue a written order explaining her decision, but did not set a date.

Youthful offenders

A school psychology expert and a specialist in juvenile justice research testified in defense of keeping Reed out of adult court, while Indiana prison officials testified on behalf of the prosecutor wanting to waive him there.

Reed, dressed in a white shirt and tie with a camouflage coat, stayed silent during the proceedings. He often hung his head, seemingly looking at the floor.

The judge gave Reed’s parents a chance to offer their thoughts, but they declined.

School psychologist Barbara Jones testified that Reed has learning disabilities and that his mental age is less than 11.

She said he needed to be taught in special education classes but that he has no deviant psychological problems, such as being a sociopath or psychopath.

Donna Bishop, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University in Boston, testified that her research on the Florida juvenile justice system showed that violent juvenile offenders waived to adult court were more likely to commit more crimes upon their release than juvenile offenders whose cases were handled in juvenile court.

She testified that a violent juvenile offender more likely would be rehabilitated if he went through the juvenile system.

However, when Oliver cross-examined her, Bishop acknowledged she had not evaluated Reed and had not studied the Indiana prison system.

James Wynn, the Indiana Department of Correction director of classification, testified that the state has a “youthful offenders unit” at its Wabash Valley facility for juveniles sentenced as adults.

The unit keeps kids mostly segregated from adult offenders, but Wynn said the juveniles do interact with older convicts during lunch and recreation periods.

Wynn testified that the unit offers classes to help offenders earn their GED, noting that all teachers in the units have special education training.

The youngest offenders to serve time in the youthful offenders unit have been 14, Wynn said.

If convicted of murder in adult court, Blade Reed would face a sentence of at least 45 years in prison. If his case is handled in juvenile court, he could be freed in less than two years.

Reed’s charges

Blade Reed, 13, faces nine criminal charges:

Murder.

Attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, all Class A felonies.

Burglary and aggravated battery, both Class B felonies:

Battery with a deadly weapon, a Class C felony:

Two counts of theft, both Class D felonies:


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Thomas Smith, 66, Brown County
  Husband of Kathleen Smith

Roscoe Stanley Shepherd, 77, North Vernon
  

Eileen F. (Denoon) Walters, 51, Cordry-Sweetwater
  Wife of James A. “Jim” Walters of Cordry-Sweetwater

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