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Reid's death penalty appeal won't be heard

October 23, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month refused to review the case of Albert E. Reid, one of two Franklin County men on Pennsylvania's death row, but his attorney says it will be at least two years before a death warrant reaches the governor's desk.

Reid, 53, formerly of Chambersburg, was convicted of first-degree homicide and sentenced to death for the Dec. 27, 1996, murders of his estranged wife, Carla Reid, 36, and her 14-year-old daughter, Deidra Moore. Both were shot in the head while they slept in their Sollenberger Road home.

Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson, who tried the case, recently was notified by letter that the high court had denied the request to hear the case.

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All death penalty cases and sentences are automatically reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court affirmed the conviction and sentence on Sept. 27, 2002, according to Reid's court-appointed attorney, David Yoder.

A petition to reargue the decision before the state Supreme Court was subsequently filed and denied on Dec. 20, 2002, Yoder said. The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was filed at earlier this year, he said.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the petition for review, Yoder said a full record of the case will go to the Pennsylvania Office of General Counsel, which will recommend to the governor whether a death warrant should or should not be issued, Yoder said.

Yoder said Reid has one year in which to file an appeal under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act. Once that deadline passes, he has another year to file federal habeas appeals.

"We're probably several years away from full finality," Yoder said.

Reid was convicted despite the fact that there were no witnesses to the crimes, even though the victims were shot while sleeping in beds with Carla Reid's other children. Pennsylvania State Police never found the murder weapon.

Yoder said issues he raised on appeal included "the appropriateness of the contact that state police had with him" after the murders were discovered. Yoder said Reid had not been read his Miranda rights when police asked him to go to their barracks and he was asked to remove his shoes and jacket.

At that point, police asked for permission to search his motel room near Chambersburg.

"We argued that that was inherently coercive," Yoder said.

The jacket and the search of the room turned up two key pieces of evidence in the case, according to court records. Gunpowder residue was found on the jacket and what was described at trial as a "death list" was found in the motel room.

The list included the names of Carla Reid and Deidra Moore, as well as Nelson and a state trooper who was the investigating officer in a child molestation case against Albert Reid that was scheduled for trial in January 1997. Moore was the alleged victim in the case.

"I continue to believe he did not receive a fair trial and sincerely hope some court in the future will give him one," Yoder said.

The other Franklin County man on death row, Michael B. Singley of Chambersburg, was convicted of the November 1998 rape and murder of a Chambersburg woman and her next-door neighbor, as well as the attempted murders of the woman's husband and the girlfriend of the neighbor.

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