Man charged in father's death pleads not guilty

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comJanuary 12, 2013 

A 35-year-old Delhi man pleaded not guilty on Friday to accusations he shot his father to death.

Jason Curtis Reed is charged with first-degree murder with an enhancement alleging he discharged a firearm. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

The victim, J.D. Reed, 67, was found in bed, shot to death, the morning of Jan. 1. The victim's son was tracked down by law enforcement at a Lodi truck stop days later. The defendant lived with his father at the residence in the 9000 block of Sycamore Street in Delhi.

Although reports by Merced County sheriff's detectives reveal some new details, prosecutors haven't elaborated about a possible motive. Under questioning by detectives, Jason Reed said he couldn't recall what happened to his father, when asked what could have led to the shooting.

Jason Reed had also told detectives during the interview his father had been "suffering and in pain," although he didn't know how the victim died. Family members told detectives the victim had multiple medical problems.

The defendant gave inconsistent accounts of what happened the night of Dec. 31. At one point, Jason Reed told detectives he'd been driving to his brother's house late that night when his car stalled near Interstate 5 and Highway 12, just north of Stockton. He then changed that story, saying he'd been at the Delhi home about midnight, because it was the new year and he remembered hearing gunshots outside, according to the sheriff's reports.

While talking with detectives, Jason Reed also made several odd statements. For example, at one point he claimed to be "thousands of years old," and said he'd "killed his three wives." The defendant also claimed his father had kidnapped him 35 years ago. "Most of what Jason was saying didn't make sense," Detective Mike Ruiz wrote in his report.

Mental issues

Some of the defendant's family members told detectives Jason Reed was having mental issues recently, with symptoms similar to schizophrenia, and was known to carry firearms, according to the reports.

Deputies also learned from some witnesses he'd been expecting a $3,000 disability check in the mail because of a shoulder injury. He was upset because he hadn't received it, according to the sheriff's reports, and claimed someone had taken it.

A neighbor reported hearing six gunshots about 12:45 a.m. Jan. 1, but said he didn't pay much attention at the time because of the new year.

Chief Deputy Public Defender Vincent Andrade, Jason Reed's attorney, said it's still too early to comment on any possible mental issues with regard to his client. Andrade said he plans on doing a thorough investigation of the case. "I am interested in learning more about the events that led up to the death of his father and learning more about my client," Andrade said.

Andrade said the allegations are not "consistent" with Jason Reed's past. Andrade added his client's prior criminal background is minor. He'd previously been employed as a truck driver, Andrade said, and had a history of working to provide for himself.

Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby, the prosecutor in the case, also said it's still too early to elaborate about the case. When asked whether Jason Reed's mental state had been evaluated by a doctor, Colby replied, "That's something that would have to come out through the process."

The sheriff's reports also revealed deputies reported finding a .22-caliber rifle and a shotgun inside Jason Reed's 2012 Nissan Altima, which had been parked in Lodi.

The victim's autopsy showed he had three bullet wounds, having been shot in the shoulder, neck and armpit.

Jason Reed remains at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $1.3 million bail.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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