The criminal case against Richard Reed — the brother of former St. Tammany and Washington parishes District Attorney Walter Reed — is becoming something of a legal hot potato.
Just days after Richard Reed was arrested in August, his brother’s office recused itself from the case and handed it off to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. When Reed was indicted last month on four felony counts including sexual battery and kidnapping, three 22nd Judicial District judges recused themselves from hearing the case, citing relationships with Richard or Walter Reed. The case is now before Judge Peter Garcia.
Now, Reed’s attorney wants the case moved out of southeast Louisiana altogether.
Reed’s attorney, Buddy Spell, filed two motions Thursday. One argues that extensive media coverage of the case has so tainted the pool of prospective jurors that a fair trial on the north shore would be impossible.
“Since the alleged incident occurred on Aug. 10, 2014, the local newspapers have published numerous articles about this incident of a highly inflammatory nature,” Spell wrote.
He added that even before the incident, Richard Reed had been the subject of media scrutiny over his employment at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, where his brother had a $30,000-a-year legal contract.
Media attention to the case has been “ongoing since the incident occurred,” Spell wrote.
Any trial in this “media market” would be impossible, he said, moving that the trial be moved to Lafayette or Vermilion parishes.
Spell’s other motion asks the court to compel the various agencies that investigated or are prosecuting Reed — including the Covington Police Department, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Justice — to turn over their complete files on the case, as well as the names and addresses of all agents who worked the case.
“Said investigators are believed to have interviewed and interrogated literally dozens of persons as part of a general inquisition against (Richard Reed),” Spell wrote.
The motion also asks for a complete list of all the state’s potential witnesses in the case, plus any criminal history they may have.
Reed was indicted March 10 on four felony counts: sexual battery, second-degree kidnapping, public intimidation of a police officer and impeding a witness.
All the charges stem from an August incident that began at The Chimes Restaurant in Covington, where police had been called to deal with an intoxicated and belligerent woman. When they arrived, witnesses told them that Reed had left with the woman in his car. Police spotted the car at a nearby traffic light and pulled it over.
Reed flashed an honorary District Attorney’s Office investigator badge at the officers and insisted that he had the situation under control.
But officers became concerned for the health of the woman, who was very drunk, police said. They decided to take her to the police station to have her checked out by paramedics.
During the three hours the woman was at the station, Richard Reed repeatedly insisted that she be released into his custody. The woman said she didn’t know Reed and refused to go with him. She was later cited for public intoxication and was sent home with friends.
After viewing security camera footage from the restaurant, Covington police arrested Richard Reed a week later on a count of sexual battery. Reed’s alleged actions at the restaurant — repeatedly groping the woman’s breasts and genital area — were “shocking,” Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz said at the time.
When he was indicted, prosecutors added counts of kidnapping; intimidation of a police officer, for Reed’s treatment of officers at the station when he tried to get the woman released to him; and intimidation of a witness, for his alleged attempt to get Chimes employees to destroy the security footage.
Reed’s arraignment is set for April 13.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.