Did the Judge make the right call?
The 26-year-old Windsor man charged with murder in Monday’s Wal-Mart parking lot shooting in Hartford was released on a promise to appear in court after a judge found inadequate evidence to hold him on a murder charge.
Superior Court Judge Carl E. Taylor said he carefully read the four-page Hartford police report submitted to him in support of the murder charge against Kenneth Reid.
“Having reviewed the document several times — I’ve reviewed it in depth — as to the charge of murder, which is the only charge presently against this gentleman, the court does not find probable cause for the charge of murder,” Taylor said.
“Based on the fact that probable cause has not been found, I’m required by statute to release the defendant on a written promise to appear,” the judge said.
The murder charge against Reid stands for now, but police will have to gather more evidence and prosecutors will have to determine whether they want to press forward, reduce the charge or drop it. If the state wants to continue with the murder charge, it will have to convince a judge at a preliminary hearing that it has enough evidence to continue with the murder prosecution. That hearing has not been scheduled.
Reid told police that he shot Larry Williams, 34, of New Britain, in self-defense. Police on Monday night described the killing as a drug deal gone bad, but according to the arrest report, Reid told police he met Williams at the Wal-Mart parking lot to sell him a pair of Cartier glasses for $1,000.
Reid said he did not know anything about a bag found at the scene that contained more than a pound of marijuana, according to the police report.
After the shooting, Reid fled to a friend’s house on Farmington Avenue. From there, he called police and told them he’d been robbed and shot his gun at the would-be robber in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Reid told detectives he met Williams about a week ago outside a bodega in Hartford’s south end, although Reid said he could not remember which bodega or which street it was on, according to the report. Williams admired Reid’s Cartier glasses, Reid told police, and said he wanted to buy them. The men exchanged phone numbers, Reid told police.
Williams called Reid between 4 and 5 p.m. Monday and the two negotiated a sale price of $1,000 for the glasses, Reid told detectives, according to the report. Reid said he insisted on meeting in a public place and they agreed upon the Wal-Mart parking lot at 495 Flatbush Ave.
Reid told detectives that Williams arrived at the Wal-Mart parking lot in a pickup truck with another man, identified in the police report as Jordan Chasse, 32.
Williams, who was in the passenger seat, got out of the pickup truck and climbed into Reid’s white Saturn Vue, Reid told police. Williams, who Reid said referred to himself in telephone conversations as Jose, brought a bag with him.
“Reid stated he was demonstrating how these glasses were legitimate Cartiers when Williams … took a shortened shotgun out of the bag and demanded the Cartier glasses,” according to the report. “Reid stated a struggle ensued and that he managed to push Williams out of his car and that they both fell to the ground, where the struggle continued. Reid stated he pushed the glasses underneath his car so Williams couldn’t get them.”
Reid told the detectives, according to the report, that he ended up face down on the ground with Williams on top of him. That’s when he reached into his pocket and fired two shots from his Ruger 9mm pistol. He said he tried to fire a third shot, but the gun jammed. Williams was struck twice in the abdomen.
After the shooting, Reid said, Williams got off him and began slowly walking away. Chasse, still in the pickup truck, pulled away from the shooting but stayed nearby, according to the report. Reid said he then took cover behind a vehicle and grabbed the shotgun. He said he pointed it at Williams until Williams was a safe distance away, according to the report.
Reid said he recovered the Cartier sunglasses from under his SUV and drove to Tate’s house, where he called police. Detectives found the Cartier glasses and 9mm handgun in Tate’s house. Reid told police the shotgun was in his SUV. Reid had a state permit to possess the handgun.
Back at the parking lot, a Hartford police officer working a security detail at the store ran outside and found Williams badly wounded. He was rushed to Hartford Hospital, where he died about 4 a.m.
Chasse was still at the scene when police arrived. He was taken to police headquarters, where police said he became confrontational and refused to provide any details about what happened.
Police initially charged Reid with first-degree assault, but after learning Williams had died, increased the charge to murder. His bail was set at $1.5 million.
Reid is due back in court on Tuesday in Hartford. Taylor ordered him to be monitored by the bail commissioner, to have no contact with Williams’ family or any witnesses, to stay away from all Wal-Mart stores in Connecticut, to turn his pistol permit over to state police and to not possess any drugs, guns or ammunition.
Outside court, Reid’s mother, Dana Hill of Windsor, described her son as “a good kid.” She said she was concerned that her son obtained a firearm permit and carried a gun, but she also wondered what might have happened Monday night if he wasn’t armed.
Tate said the dispute was about the glasses. Drugs were not involved. “The dude tried to take his glasses and pulled out a gun,” Tate said.
Reid was beaten up and bruised up as a result of the struggle with Williams, Tate said. He too said that Williams called Reid on Monday to set up the deal to buy the glasses. Reid thought the deal was “a little sketchy,” Tate said, and wanted them to meet in a public place.
Anyone with information that can help police with the investigation is asked to call Sgt. Reginald Early, 860-747-4248.