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Reid trial postponed

June 10, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The double-murder trial of Albert Reid has been delayed another three months after Franklin County Judge John R. Walker ordered a new mental evaluation Tuesday.

Reid is charged in the Dec. 27, 1996, murders of his estranged wife, Carla Reid, 36, of Chambersburg, and her 14-year-old daughter, Deidra Moore.

District Attorney John F. Nelson said he was disappointed, but "the judge did the right thing under the circumstances."

Attorney Stephen D. Kulla said the decision won't affect defense strategy.

"We're pleased the court has taken steps to ensure a fair trial for Mr. Reid," Kulla said.

After a pre-trial conference, Walker ordered the evaluation because Michael Toms, the attorney representing Reid in competency proceedings, was not notified of, or present at, an April 9 evaluation by a court-appointed psychiatrist.

Toms raised the objection at Reid's May 12 competency hearing. Nelson said Toms requested the court's permission to file an appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

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Nelson said a delay is better than risking a conviction being overturned later.

"We know the appellate courts would scrutinize the case in every respect," Nelson said.

Jury selection for the Biglerville, Pa., man's trial was to begin next week and the trial was set to start June 22. The new date is Sept. 21, Nelson said.

Nelson said Walker also ordered a battery of medical tests on Reid to determine if a medical problem is causing Reid, 49, to be uncooperative with his attorneys, Kulla and Public Defender Robert J. Trambley.

In May, Walker ruled Reid competent to stand trial. A defense psychiatrist said Reid is delusional. Prosecution and court-appointed psychiatrists said he has a personality disorder, but is able to assist in his defense.

Kulla and Trambley have said Reid maintains his innocence, but will not provide information about his past that could be crucial in a penalty phase if he is convicted of first-degree murder. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.

Nelson said there was also a potential problem in picking a jury next week. From a jury pool of 160, all but about 70 had already been excused for reasons unrelated to the case.

"We had 50-some witnesses prepared to come in," Nelson said.

At the time of the murders, Reid was awaiting trial on charges in the sexual molestation of Moore.

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