Delhi man pleads no contest to killing father

08/07/2014 2:03 PM

08/07/2014 6:40 PM

A Delhi man pleaded no contest Thursday to killing his father on New Year’s Day 2013.

Jason C. Reed, 37, pleaded no contest to a single felony count of manslaughter in connection with the Jan. 1, 2013, death of his 67-year-old father, J.D. Reed.

Detectives said Reed shot his father three times. The victim was found on his bed at home in the 9000 block of Sycamore Street in Delhi, according to reports filed by the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

Reed was arrested two days later at a truck stop in Lodi.

Juanita Kennedy, the victim’s daughter, told Merced Superior Court Judge Mark V. Bacciarini that she supported her brother’s decision to change his plea. “We understand what he’s doing, and we still love him,” she said Thursday in court.

Bacciarini expressed his condolences to the family, calling it “a tragic, tragic situation.”

The family did not wish to comment following Thursday’s proceedings.

Reed reached a plea agreement with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office allowing him to plead to a reduced charge and avoid a potential life sentence in state prison. Under terms of the agreement, Reed will be sentenced to 21 years in prison. He must serve nearly 18 years before he will be eligible for his first parole hearing, when he’s nearly 56 years old.

The judge ordered Reed to return to court Aug. 18 for formal sentencing.

“I think it’s a resolution that provides closure to a family tragedy,” said Vincent Andrade, Merced County chief deputy public defender.

Travis Colby, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, said he was pleased with the outcome. “After speaking with the family, I think we all felt this was an appropriate resolution; and certainly I think it’s a fair resolution given all the facts and circumstances of the case,” Colby said outside the courtroom.

Questions surfaced early in the case regarding Reed’s mental health and ability to understand the charges.

Reed was deemed unfit to stand trial in March 2013 and criminal proceedings were suspended. He was sent to Napa State Hospital for treatment, where he remained until November, when he was found competent for trial, according to court reports.

A hospital report suggested that Reed may be “feigning his psychiatric and cognitive symptoms,” saying much of his behavior was more consistent with methamphetamine use.

Reed remains in custody at the John Latorraca Correctional Facility.

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