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Man stays mum in murder case

February 03, 1998

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A man charged in the deaths of his wife and stepdaughter said Tuesday in Franklin County Court that he would not reveal information about himself, even though it might save him from the death penalty.

"I am accused of something I know nothing about and the accusement is my skin color," Albert Ezron Reid said in a hearing before Judge John Walker.

"My family knows nothing about it, so why should they be brought into it?" the native of Jamaica said in explaining why he has not given his attorneys information about his background.

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Attorney Stephen Kulla and Public Defender Robert J. Trambley asked for the hearing because Reid has not been forthcoming with information about his background that could be used in a penalty phase if he's convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of Carla Reid, 36, and 14-year-old Deidra Moore.

Carla Reid and her daughter were found shot to death in their Sollenberger Road home in Hamilton Township on Dec. 27, 1996, according to state police.

At the time, Albert Reid, 49, was awaiting trial on charges of sexual assault of Moore.

Reid's trial is scheduled to begin April 20.

Kulla said if his client is convicted of first-degree murder, "the next day we would have to proceed with the penalty phase."

Reid, however, has not given them information that could serve as mitigating evidence. That includes information about his family, friends, education, childhood, physical and mental health, Kulla told Walker.

"That cannot be done in a day. That takes months," Trambley said of preparing for the penalty phase.

Kulla said he did not know if Reid's refusal to offer information is voluntary, "or if there's another reason Mr. Reid is incapable of assisting."

Reid is scheduled to meet with a psychiatrist next week, Kulla said.

Walker explained the procedure in a capital case to Reid: First there is a trial to determine guilt or innocence. If the trial ends in a conviction, the penalty phase determines whether the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison or receive the death penalty.

"I understand that, sir," Reid said, adding that he still would not reveal information about his past. At one point he said, "I will not reveal my identity ... until the trial is ended."

Asked again if he understood how his actions could affect his case, Reid told Walker, "I'm not sure about it."

"What I've heard today is not going to float," Walker said toward the end of the hearing.

"We weren't asking anything from the court today," Kulla said after the hearing. He and Trambley are not planning an insanity defense, Kulla said, but Reid's actions raise the question of his "competency to stand trial based on his ability to assist in his own defense."

If found incompetent, Kulla said Reid could be held and treated until he is able to stand trial.

"Our main goal is to convince a jury of reasonable doubt and have him found not guilty," Kulla said.

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