Article published August 11, 2010
Murder suspect remains at large after fleeing home detention
Sheriff questions home detention for Reeder, who has criminal historyBy Lynne P. Shackleford firstname.lastname@example.org
A Spartanburg County man released on bond after being charged with murder and assault with intent to kill remained at large Tuesday night, more than two months after authorities say he took off his home detention monitoring device.
Law enforcement officers have been searching for 21-year-old Rashawn Reeder of 300 Crescent Ave. since June, when jail officials say he removed his court-ordered ankle bracelet. An alarm alerted officers that Reeder had tampered with the device, and an arrest warrant was signed the next day.
Reeder and Darius Cathcart were charged in the March 14, 2009, shooting death of 16-year-old Duncan Lamar "AJ" Geter. Reeder also is charged in the shooting of Bryant Miller, 22. Reeder was injured by gunfire in the altercation.
Reeder also pleaded guilty in 2006 to assault with intent to kill, according to his criminal history.
Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said, in his view, no suspect charged with murder and assault with intent to kill with a prior criminal record is a good candidate for home detention.
"Judge (Roger) Couch is certainly more knowledgeable about the facts of this case, but I would say that this guy who killed someone and has a record of bad behavior is not a prime candidate for home detention," Wright said. "In my opinion, it's a better use of the jail's facilities to keep these people behind bars."
Judge Couch ordered a $75,000 bond for Reeder, and as a condition of Reeder's bond, Couch ordered home detention with electronic monitoring on Oct. 1.
Reeder was required to wear the ankle bracelet equipped with global positioning system tracking. He was allowed to attend church, doctor and attorney appointments, and classes at Spartanburg Community College.
Nancy Vinson, coordinator of the county home detention program, said Reeder was on the highest level of surveillance, which allows officers to monitor his whereabouts at all times.
Reeder paid $94.50 weekly for the service and had complied with the provisions of his bond until June 6, when officers were alerted the ankle bracelet had been cut.
Vinson said electronic monitoring is intended to serve as a layer of protection until a defendant goes to trial.
"Ten or 15 years ago, when we didn't have this technology, there would have been no one to watch them," Vinson said.
State statute allows a judge to set a bond for all defendants except those charged with capital crimes, although the amount of bond and whether to deny a bond is left to the judge's discretion. The presumption of innocence follows a defendant until he pleads guilty or a jury finds him guilty of a crime.
The judge also considers a defendant's prior criminal history, his ties to the community and whether he's a flight risk. If a defendant violates the terms of his bond, or does not comply with electronic monitoring, officers can seek a warrant and take the defendant back before a judge to determine whether to revoke his bond and order him jailed until his court date.
Cathcart also violated the conditions of his home detention and remains jailed until his trial date, authorities said.
The sheriff said he has the upmost respect for Couch and his decisions.
"I'm just going to go ahead and say I don't know why in the world this cat was allowed to be out of jail," Wright said. "In some instances, maybe some property crimes, I would say home detention is a viable option, but I just can't see it in this case."
To crime victims, all crimes are serious, but the system allows some defendants to remain jailed until their case is called to trial, Wright said.
During Reeder's bond hearing, Deputy Solicitor Derrick Bulsa asked for a bond similar to the one Cathcart received during his hearing. Bulsa said a $75,000 bond is a significant amount, and electronic monitoring works in most cases.
The Seventh Circuit Solicitor's Office has about 10,000 pending cases, and it isn't unusual for defendants who initially have been denied bond to ask for a bond reconsideration if their case has not been called, said Murray Glenn, solicitor's office spokesman.
"I think it's important to understand that this is an extra layer of protection for the community, and the judge was acting in the community's best interest when he ordered the home detention," Glenn said.
Jail Director Larry Powers said the home detention program has a 70 percent success rate. The jail's website lists 188 people on its current home detention list. Of those, five are charged with murder. There are 15 outstanding warrants for those who have violated home detention.
Powers said 70 percent to 80 percent of people in jail are awaiting trial. Between 10 percent and 12 percent are serving sentences up to 90 days, and the remaining have been sentenced and are waiting to be taken to other facilities or have scheduled hearings in Spartanburg.
Michael Brown, Reeder's defense attorney, said he has not had contact with his client in awhile.
Brown said he asked Couch to set a reasonable bond and thought Reeder could comply with the requirements of home detention and electronic monitoring.
"It's hard to predict if someone will comply, but you hope nothing will happen," Brown said.
"You could have a nonviolent offender out on bond who commits another crime. One can't predict what another person will do, and I don't know what caused this situation, but I hope to have contact with him soon so we can have a resolution to this phase of the case," he said.
Anyone with information on Reeder's whereabouts is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIMESC (274-6372). All calls are anonymous, and anyone who provides information leading to Reeder's arrest is eligible for a cash reward.