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Reed takes an Alford plea for Main St. fire

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By Melissa Blankenship

Just like his co-defendant, Steven Reed entered an Alford guilty plea in an arson case stemming from a fire in July of 2014 that destroyed several buildings along Main Street in downtown Eminence.
Reed and his mother-in-law Yvonne Dawson were indicted by a Henry County Grand Jury on Oct. 23, 2015, alleging the two “committed the offense of arson in the second degree, a class B felony when with intent to destroy or damage a building, he/she intentionally started a fire at 5209 South Main Street in Eminence.”
The fire burned through the upstairs apartment to the rest of the building then spread next door where Johnson Flooring Company had set up shop.
Around 75 firefighters responded to the blaze. In the aftermath of the fire, buildings that housed two local businesses and five apartments have been demolished,
An investigation found that accelerants had been used to start the fire, which led to the criminal charges.
In the months since his initial indictment and arraignment, Reed’s defense attorney Mike Goodwin submitted several motions to suppress evidence against his client, including phone records and evidence gathered in Dawson’s apartment, which Goodwin argued was obtained illegally. In at least some of those arguments, Goodwin was successful in getting the evidence suppressed.
By submitting an Alford plea, Reed maintains that he is innocent of the charge, but admits there is enough evidence remaining that would be presented against him at trial to result in a guilty verdict.
Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Josh Clubb was asked to enter into the court record the proof he would have submitted at the trial against Reed. Clubb advised that Reed made a statement after the fire that he was “nowhere near Eminence” the night of the fire, that he and Dawson were in La Grange on that particular evening.
“However, a surveillance video from CVS shows two individuals, one larger than the other…going into the building [where Dawson’s apartment was located], then leaving the building and a few minutes after they left, smoke starts rising from the building and is consumed in flames before the video is over,” Clubb said.
Clubb also said phone records would indicate Reed’s cell phone “pinged” in Eminence that night, and that on two occasions, his co-defendant made statements that would implicate Reed in the crime.
Reed pleaded guilty to third-degree arson, a Class D felony, amended down from second-degree arson, a Class B felony. The second-degree felony indicates intent while the third-degree felony alleges the action is more wanton in nature. The two subsequently carry different sentencing recommendations.
The suggested sentence from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is five years probated, with restitution to be paid jointly by Reed and Dawson to the victim. Dawson, who pleaded guilty in June of 2016, also received a five-year probated sentence.
Reed will be formally sentenced on April 13.

In other cases
• John Alvin Moore Jr., who pleaded guilty to first-degree wanton endangerment after being charged with first-degree sexual abuse, was formally sentenced in court Thursday.
This plea had been negotiated from a guilty plea to sexual abuse in the second degree that Moore had agreed to until he learned it would have required him to be on the sex offender registry for 20 years. He withdrew that plea months ago, but came to the judge’s bench last December to plead to wanton endangerment for his confessed inappropriate sexual contact with a 15-year-old victim.
Moore was taken into custody Thursday to serve a 60-day sentence, and will remain on probation for five years after his release. He must complete a sex offender treatment program; follow all rules of probation and parole; have no unsupervised contact with minors; incur no new offenses or probation violations; have no missed, diluted, refused or positive drug or alcohol screens and have no contact with the victim in this case.
As part of his plea deal, Moore will not have to register as a sex offender.

• Based on a report from the office of Probation and Parole, Charles Thomas Hagan has violated the terms of his release.
In July 2016, Hagan pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree sexual abuse, which are Class A misdemeanor charges. Original charges against Hagan were classified at the Class D felony level, sexual abuse in the first degree.
In pleading guilty Hagan admitted he had physical contact with two victims under the age of 12 at the time and that by statute, that contact was defined as sexual in nature. According to court files, Hagan allegedly “touched the victim’s breasts with his hands both under and over her clothing.”
In August 2016, Hagan was sentenced to 12 months for each count with credit for time served. His sentence was probated for a period of two years. Hagan was ordered to complete a sex offender treatment program, obey all conditions of his probation and have no contact with the victims in the case. He will be on the sex offender registry for 20 years.
It is the stipulation that he comply with all conditions of his probation that are currently in question.
In a report to the court, the office of Probation and Parole listed a number of allegations against Hagan that would constitute violations, including  “establishing a dating, intimate, sexual relationship with an adult,” “having unsupervised contact with juveniles without permission,” “being in a place where children congregate without prior approval,” “leaving the area of his supervision without permission of parole office” and a “violation of supplemental conditions of supervision for sex offender.” Many of the allegations stem from Hagan’s decision to go to GattiTown as the act specifically contradicted his acknowledgement that he was…” prohibited from any business, organization or activity which provides services or care for children under the age of 18 or persons unable to give consent due to mental, physical or emotional limitations.”
As a result, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office submitted a motion to revoke Hagan’s probation, a motion that will be considered by Henry County Circuit Court Judge Karen Conrad during a revocation hearing scheduled for April 13.

Arraignments

Daniel W. Boyer – pleaded guilty on a Rocket Docket case to possession of a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (methamphetamine); and failure of owner to maintain required insurance/security, first
Joseph S. Cobb – pleaded guilty on a Rocket Docket case to possession of a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (heroin)
Nicholas B. Crowe – pleaded guilty on a Rocket Docket case to possession of a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (heroin)
Jason L. Cash – pleaded guilty on a Rocket Docket case to possession of a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (methamphetamine)
Kayla D. Miller – pleaded guilty on a Rocket Docket case to possession of a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (methamphetamine); controlled substance endangerment to child, fourth degree
Jeffrey A. Cox – pleaded not guilty to possession of a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (methamphetamine); and drug paraphernalia – buy/possess