Crime & Courts

August 30, 2011

Defendant's brother testifies in Reed murder trial

The man serving prison time for shooting Vincent Barnes dead took the witness stand in defense of his brother.

Robert Reed has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Barnes' 2009 death. Tuesday he testified at the trial of his older brother, Michael.

Michael Reed is charged with first-degree felony murder as an aider and abettor in Barnes' killing.

The younger Reed's testimony, however, conflicted an earlier version of what happened the night of May 15, 2009 that jurors heard last week from a third convicted co-conspirator, Jeremy Trout.

Trout told jurors that after a night of heavy drinking, Michael Reed wanted to find cocaine. Trout testified Michael Reed had tried to call Barnes, who wouldn't talk, hung up and didn't answer calls. Trout then said Michael Reed obtained a gun from his home and gave it to Robert Reed.

Robert Reed, now 23, said he'd taken the gun from his brother before that night and didn't tell anyone he had it on him when they went out drinking the night before his wedding.

The younger Reed testified he had no knowledge of his older brother searching for cocaine. That search, prosecutors say, led the three men to Barnes apartment near Central and West.

Barnes did not have any cocaine, prosecutors say, and refused to talk to Michael Reed, which angered the brothers.

Robert Reed said he was upset at Barnes' treatment of his older brother, but Michael Reed didn't seem to be upset.

When they went to the apartment, Robert Reed said he started arguing with Barnes about him not taking Michael's calls. Robert Reed said his brother tried to step between them.

"I pulled out my pistol and fired a shot into the ceiling," Robert Reed said.

Robert Reed said his brother and Trout ran out of the apartment.

"Vincent charged me and I shot him," Robert Reed said.

Robert Reed said he then ran out the door, tripped and fell down the stairs.

"Did you ask Michael to aid you in anything?" defense lawyer Lee McMaster asked.

"No, sir," Robert Reed answered.

On cross-examination prosecutor Lance Gillett asked: "You were known for having a temper back then weren't you?"

Robert Reed acknowledged that he had been scheduled for an anger management class.

Yet his older brother gave him a gun, Gillett asked.

"He knew you liked guns?" Gillett asked.

"No," Robert Reed answered.

"You've got a gun tattooed on your neck, don't you?" Gillett asked.

"Yes," Robert Reed answered.

Gillett also challenged the younger Reed's knowledge about his older brother's apparent search for drugs, saying that Reed had told police about looking for drugs in earlier interviews.

"So this is the third version of this story you've told, correct?" Gillett asked.

"Yes, the third," Robert Reed said.

Robert Reed is serving 19 years in prison. Jeremy Trout pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, saying he was involved in the fight with Barnes that led to the shooting. He is awaiting sentencing.

Michael Reed faces life in prison if convicted.

The jury is expected to get the case today, when the trial resumes before Sedgwick County District Judge Jeff Syrios.

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