High drama took place in an Ohio County courtroom, as a mother accused of intentional neglect resulting in her son's death, accepted a plea agreement. The agreement spared Ohio County a potential trial apparently tailor-made for tabloid television.
Robin Reed shuffled into Judge James Mazzone's courtroom on August 27th wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and leg irons -- far different dress than she wore as an exotic dancer in Wheeling. Prosecutors accused her of intentionally neglecting her baby son, Jason Allen Reed, Jr., causing his death. As part of a negotiated plea agreement, Reed pleaded guilty to a charge of child neglect causing death. She sobbed during much of the court proceedings.
According to public court records, the death occurred in January of 2011. Officers responded to Reed's home on Grandview Street in Wheeling on January 22nd. They found her infant son unresponsive on the couch. One responding officer stated the infant's back had several unknown marks -- triggering a criminal investigation.
As part of the plea agreement, Reed pleaded guilty to a charge of child neglect. Also as part of that plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a more serious criminal charge of intentional child neglect. The attorneys spoke during the sentencing phase. Arguments concerning her sentence came immediately, as if they had been rehearsed for a trial.
Reed's defense attorney, Don Tennant, Jr., asserted, "This is a prototypical type of case called a 'shaken baby syndrome' case." He went on to say Reed's son's death came about in the course of a dispute with her mother. He continued, saying, "She did, in the heat of a passioned argument with her mother, after she returned home from work, did grab her baby, who was underdeveloped, and did shake him and bounce him about."
Tennant went on to say, "After looking at all the evidence in this case, I add my professional opinion, along with Miss (Sharon) Bogarad's opinion, that this is a 100-percent appropriate plea to this particular count, because the evidence is overwhelming that there was neglect causing death, rather than an intentional act." Bogarad served as co-counsel for the defense in the case.
The medical evidence told a different story to Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Jenna Wood. In life before a law degree, she worked as a emergency room nurse.
"What he had evidence of was an abusive head injury," Wood said in response to Tennant's assertion. "We know that when we take him out of your care, and we put him in a hospital setting, he gains two pounds in two days. She had CPS help, she had family help, and to come here and try to say that she should be shown some mercy because of her life circumstances -- she made her life circumstances," Wood continued.
"She was mad at the strip club because she got into a fight over a guy. She was mad at her mother when she got home. And in anger, she took this child, in her own hands, and she inflicted a fatal injury upon him," Wood told Judge Mazzone.
Judge Mazzone then sentenced Reed according to the plea agreement. She'll spend three to 15 years in prison.
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