MOUNT VERNON – The Fifth District Appellate Court has affirmed the convictions of a man found guilty of murdering two people.
In an opinion filed Aug. 24, Justice Melissa A. Chapman, with Justices Richard P. Goldenhersh and Judy Cates concurring, upheld a decision from the court of now retired Madison County associate judge James Hackett.
Defendant Kevin Reid had argued that his conviction of life in prison should be overturned, but the appellate court disagreed with Reid on all three of his points.
According to the ruling, Reid’s case was originally brought to trial in March 2014. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of intentional homicide of an unborn child when the bodies of Anquiaette "Tweety" Parker and her unborn child, and 4-year-old CJ Toney were found on property in 2008 that had belonged to Reid when the pair went missing in 2005.
The police had found Parker’s vehicle the day she was reported missing, the ruling states, and searched the vehicle for evidence, including extracting fingerprints and DNA from the vehicle and certain items within it. After several weeks, once police had determined that they’d extracted all possible evidence from the vehicle, they returned it to the lienholder.
Upon appeal, Reid argues “that the state violated his right to due process by failing to preserve potentially-exculpatory touch DNA evidence, either by retaining Parker’s vehicle or by taking and preserving such samples,” according to the ruling.
The court, however, rejected this argument, pointing out that the police had not acted in bad faith, as is required for this argument to succeed, particularly given that the value of keeping the vehicle was not clear when the decision was made to return it to the lienholder. The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that the failure to retain the vehicle and subject it to further testing impaired Reid’s ability to submit a proper defense.
Reid argued further that he had not been allowed a fair trial due to the court’s refusal to give the jury nonpattern instructions. Specifically, he asked the judge to “instruct the jury that it could infer from the loss of the vehicle that it would have contained evidence favorable to the defendant. He contends that such an instruction could have cured the prejudice he suffered due to the state’s failure to preserve the evidence,” according to the ruling.
The appellate court, however, found that the circuit court was correct in refusing such instruction.
Reid’s final argument for appeal focused on an exchange between the defendant and the prosecution during cross-examination. According to the ruling, “The defendant argues that this line of questioning shifted the burden of proof to him by implying that he ‘needed to explain away the state’s own circumstantial evidence before the jury could acquit him.’”
Reid believes that the court should not have overruled his objections during the questioning, and that doing so showed the jurors that the exchange was acceptable.
The appellate court, however, held that the questions were an appropriate attempt by the prosecution to call the defendant’s credibility into question.