Murder Trial Defense: Intoxication— (The Advocate)

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Damico and Stockstill

By JOE GYAN JR.,  Advocate staff writer

Published: Jan 28, 2010 – Page: 2B

A Baton Rouge man is not criminally responsible for the murder of his ex-fiancée and attempted murder of one of her neighbors in 2008 because he was involuntarily intoxicated at the time, one of his attorneys told a jury Wednesday.

Defense lawyer Tommy Damico argued in his opening statement that Frederick Dominique Reed Jr. had a violent reaction to the prescribed anti-depressant Lexapro, which he began taking in early August 2008.

But a prosecutor countered that Reed was “very calculated’’ in hunting down Mia Reid and shooting her at her Scotlandville apartment while she slept next to her 10-year-old daughter on Aug. 23, 2008.

Assistant District Attorney Melissa Morvant also noted in her opening statement that Reid’s request for a temporary restraining order against Reed was denied Aug. 12, 2008, and that a hearing on a permanent protective order was to be held Aug. 26, 2008.

East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Reed on a count of domestic abuse battery in March 2008, but Reid dropped the complaint, her temporary restraining order petition stated.

At the end of July 2008, Reid and her daughter moved out of an apartment near Siegen Lane that they shared with Reed to a new apartment in north Baton Rouge, friends and relatives have said.

Reed, 39, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Reid, 31, and attempted second-degree murder in the wounding of Richard Kuti.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

State District Judge Tony Marabella is presiding over the trial, which will resume today.

Morvant told jurors that Reed first entered apartment 23 at the Ashley Oak complex on Rosenwald Road and shot Kuti three times while he slept, then went to apartment 33 and shot Reid.

“While Mia Reid is sleeping on an air mattress with her 10-year-old daughter, he shoots her twice,’’ Morvant said.

Later, as authorities closed in on him on Villa Drive, Reed tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest, she said.

Kuti and his roommate, Courvasier Jones, testified they did not know Reed or Reid. Jones said he heard shots and Reed appeared in his room asking for Reid. He said he told Reed that he did not know Reid or where she was, and Reed left.

“When I was wrapping up his (Kuti’s) arm with an Ace bandage, I heard more shots,’’ Jones testified.

Meghan Green, who said Reid was her best friend, testified she raced to Reid’s apartment complex after Reid’s daughter called her.

“When (she) jumped into my arms, she had Mia’s bloody cell phone,’’ Green testified.

Damico asked the jury to “keep an open mind’’ and not have an “emotional or gut reaction’’ to the tragic events that he argued were “not the legal fault’’ of his client.

“This is not a case about who did it or how it was done,’’ he said. “It is about why it happened and what caused it.’’

Damico added that Reed’s involuntary intoxication was the “direct cause’’ of the shootings.

“The drug did not interact with Frederick Reed as it was prescribed to do,’’ he said. “Some people are affected in very dangerous ways.’’

“But for the involuntary intoxication, Frederick Reed would not have committed these acts,’’ he added.

Louisiana law says an offender is exempt from criminal responsibility if intoxication is involuntary and the circumstances indicate the condition was the direct cause of the commission of the crime.