Crime & Courts

August 31, 2011

Reed murder case goes to jury

A jury of five men and seven women will return Thursday morning to continue their deliberations in the first-degree murder trial of Michael Reed.

Their decision will hinge whether they're convinced Reed helped his brother and a friend in the murder of Vincent Barnes the night of May 15, 2009.

Robert Reed, Michael's younger brother, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for actually shooting Barnes and is serving a 19-year prison sentence. Jeremy Trout, a friend of the brothers, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing.

All three were at Barnes' apartment, when an altercation erupted and Robert Reed shot Barnes. It was the eve of Robert Reed's wedding. Prosecutors say Michael Reed was angry after a night of heavy drinking, because Barnes wouldn't accept his phone calls.

"They wanted to teach him a lesson," prosecutor Lance Gillett said in his closing arguments. "His stamp is all over this crime. It's a classic case of felony murder."

Prosecutors say he planned his brother's bachelor party, gave his brother a gun, drove to Barnes' apartment, drove them away after the shooting a left his Jeep at another location. They say Michael Reed was trying to buy cocaine. In Kansas, participating in a serious crime that ends in death is felony murder.

Defense attorney Lee McMaster questioned why the state would plea bargain with the others but press for first-degree murder against his client. McMaster said there were too many questions left unanswered in the case.

"This is a complicated case both factually and legally," McMasters told the jury. "Mike Reed deserves more than your best guess."

Jurors also have the choice of finding Reed guilty of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.

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