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A James City County man who allegedly attacked and detained a 62-year-old woman last year will get a new trial after Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court Judge Michael McGinty set aside the jury’s guilty verdict.
In December, Randy Emory Reed, 45, was found guilty of abducting, strangling and unlawfully wounding the woman.
However, earlier this month the prosecution and the defense learned the woman has gone by different names, some of which are connected to a criminal history that includes multiple felony convictions.
On Tuesday defense attorney Brandon Waltrip made a motion to set aside the verdict from the December trial, arguing the Commonwealth had access to “inadvertently undisclosed exculpatory evidence” that, had it been available to all parties, would have “strongly impacted” the defense’s strategy.
“It’s not newly discovered evidence,” Waltrip said. “It’s evidence that was in control of the Commonwealth but not disclosed.”
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh DeFord said the prosecution ran a criminal history on the name they had for the woman but did not find evidence of previous convictions. Until April, neither the Commonwealth nor the police knew the woman went by any other names, DeFord said.
He argued this evidence does not “undermine the fairness” of the December trial.
“This case was never about [the victim’s] credibility,” DeFord said. “This case was always about Mr. Reed’s intent.”
According to the woman’s testimony from the December trial, Reed showed the woman and her friend a bag May 12, 2015 that contained what she later identified as cocaine. Reed left to “make a deal” but returned 20 minutes later and accused the woman of taking the drugs from him before he left, she said.
A verbal altercation between the two became physical and the woman’s injuries kept her hospitalized for three days, according to testimony from December.
The defense had argued it was not drugs, but rather a roll of money that Reed had shown the woman. Reed had fallen asleep in a chair at the residence of the woman’s friend and awoke to find the woman trying to take the money out of his pants, after which a “tussle” ensued, according to the defense.
McGinty called for a recess before returning with a decision in favor of the defense. He said he recognized the failure to disclose the woman’s criminal history was “not intentional” on the part of the Commonwealth, but he could not say with confidence whether there was a “reasonable probability” the evidence would have impacted the defense.
Reed, who was in the courtroom, clasped his hands and cried upon hearing McGinty’s decision. After the hearing, Waltrip praised McGinty for making the “right” decision.
The prosecution and the defense will return to court May 18 to set a date for Reed’s new trial.