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A jury found a James City County man guilty Thursday of abducting, strangling and unlawfully wounding a 62-year-old woman.
Randy Emory Reed, 45, will receive a 20-year prison sentence if Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court Judge Michael McGinty accepts the jury’s recommendation.
The victim testified she was at the home of a friend on May 12 when Reed attacked her and detained her against her will.
She testified she was visiting a friend when Reed arrived and showed both women a bag of drugs she later identified as cocaine. He then left to “make a deal,” she said, and he returned about 20 minutes later saying he could not complete the transaction because he no longer had the drugs and accused her of taking the drugs from him before he left.
Reed became visibly agitated and repeatedly demanded the victim give her back his drugs and said she “couldn’t leave until he had his stuff,” she testified. The verbal altercation eventually turned physical – one Reed characterized as a “tussle” to law enforcement and the victim described as a brutal beating in which she was bunched in the face and ahead, strangled and smothered with a pillow.
“Anger. That’s what this case is about,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh DeFord, the prosecutor in the case. “It’s about a defendant who chose not to control his anger.”
The victim further testified Reed threatened to kill her and gave her a laceration on her lip that bled profusely. She said Reed’s son physically blocked the doorway so she could not leave the home.
During the time she was detained in the house, the victim testified she stripped off her clothes in an attempt to prove she was not hiding the drugs on her person. She also said the homeowner “checked” her genitals for the drugs, a claim the homeowner denied when she later took the stand for the defense.
Sometime between 7 and 8 p.m., the victim was able to leave the house, pausing to talk to an acquaintance outside of the home for about five minutes before driving away. She called 911 to report the assault at 8:45 p.m. according to law enforcement records, and arrived at Riverside Doctors’ Hospital at 9:43 p.m.
Both a doctor and nurse who treated the victim the night of the incident testified about the extent of her wounds. In addition to having bruises all over her body, the victim also required stitches for her lip.
It was while she was lying down to receive the stitches the victim complained of an intense pain in her head, which gave her doctor cause for concern. He ordered a scan of her head that revealed bleeding in the protective casing around her brain, known as a subdural hematoma.
The doctor further testified that while this type of injury is relatively common in cases such as car crashes or bad falls, he had never before seen one caused by a punch with bare hands.
The victim spent three days in the hospital before being released.
While the prosecution painted a picture of Reed as an angry man with a propensity for violence, the defense attempted to tell a different story.
Reed said it was not drugs but a large roll of money that he showed the victim when he entered the house and that he later accused her of stealing, according to an investigator with the James City County Police Department who interviewed him shortly after the incident.
The defense also disputed the claim Reed had done more than momentarily grapple with the victim over the money. The owner of the home in which the incident took place testified Reed fell asleep in a chair in the living room and awoke to find the victim standing over him and actively trying to take the money from out of his pants, after which they began to “tussle.”
Though she initially maintained the victim was never forced or intimidated into staying at the house after the physical confrontation, the homeowner began to waffle on the stand when pressed about whether she felt Reed posed a threat to her safety. She ultimately admitted she did not think Reed would let the victim leave.
“When he gets upset and thinks someone has wronged him, he can be violent,” the homeowner said.
That statement from the defense’s witness ended the evidentiary portion of the trial, leaving the attorneys to make their closing arguments.
“[This case] is not about anger, it’s about credibility,” said Brandon Waltrip, Reed’s defense attorney.
Waltrip went on to argue the victim had presented many inconsistencies in her testimony that created an opening for reasonable doubt as to his client’s guilt, citing the importance of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of guilt as one of the American justice system’s “most significant contributions to humanity.”
DeFord argued the evidence presented by the medical experts was compelling enough to erase all doubt of Reed’s culpability.
After nearly two hours of deliberation, the jury returned guilty verdicts on the abduction and strangulation charges as well as a guilty verdict on one reduced count of unlawful wounding, which they opted for over the more severe charge of malicious wounding that Reed originally faced.
The jury sentenced Reed to 10 years in prison on the abduction charged and five years each on the strangulation and wounding charges. He will return to court at 9 a.m. Jan. 25 for the sentencing hearing.