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Reid argues for new trial in 2 slayings

March 24, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Albert E. Reid was in Franklin County Court Tuesday seeking a new trial on his conviction last year for the murders of his estranged wife and stepdaughter.

In post-trial motions, Reid's attorneys raised more than 30 claims of error in the October trial that ended with Reid getting the death penalty.

Reid, 50, formerly of Biglerville, Pa., raised new issues during the hearing, according to co-counsels Stephen D. Kulla and Public Defender Robert J. Trambley. Both lawyers testified on those issues during the hearing.

Kulla testified he did not use an alibi defense because witnesses could not account for Reid's whereabouts when Carla Reid, 36, and Deidra Moore, 14, were killed in their home near Chambersburg on Dec. 27, 1996.

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"They did see Albert at the Roselawn Motel that night, but they didn't see him the entire time that night," Kulla said after the hearing. Reid was staying at the motel when the women were killed.

Reid claimed he was not allowed to contact the Jamaican embassy before his trial, but Trambley said the Jamaica native was given the opportunity to call.

"I called the embassy ... and asked if they'd be willing to take a collect call" from Reid, Trambley said after the hearing. Trambley said foreign nationals are allowed to contact their embassies when charged with a capital offense.

Reid testified he did not make the call because his attorney was not present at the jail when he was offered the chance, according to the hearing transcript.

Several weeks before his trial, Reid dismissed Trambley and Kulla and represented himself. He later changed his mind and his attorneys said the court should have granted a continuance.

Trambley said he testified a continuance would have "allowed us to be better prepared, particularly with our sound witness."

Carla Reid and Moore were both shot while they slept. Other children of Carla Reid were sleeping in the same beds as the two victims, but none were awakened by the shots.

Trambley said acoustic tests were conducted by a defense expert, but another man testified because the expert was ill during the trial.

The defense also claims the court failed to sequester the jury, improperly allowed videotaped testimony and failed to suppress some evidence and statements, along with other claims.

The defense also asked for a modification of the sentence, which includes prison time for a burglary committed during the course of the homicides.

According to the transcript, Judge John R. Walker said he would consider whether to grant a new trial but "the death penalty was rendered by the jury. The court is sure not going to take it away from the jury's decision."

Trambley and Kulla and District Attorney John F. Nelson have until next month to submit additional briefs. If Walker does not grant a new trial, Reid's death penalty conviction will automatically be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, according to Trambley.

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