ELKTON — A man who admittedly fired several bullets at an Elkton home – while his wife was inside the dwelling — is facing up to 50 years in sentences after a jury found him guilty of three charges.
Jurors found the defendant, Gary Eugene Reed, 71, guilty of first-degree assault, use of handgun in the commission of a felony or a crime of violence and reckless endangerment late Thursday afternoon at the conclusion of a two-day-long Cecil County Circuit Court trial, after deliberating for approximately three and a half hours.
First-degree assault carries a maximum 25-year sentence. The handgun charge carries a mandatory five-year sentence and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Reckless endangerment carries a maximum five-year sentence.
The jury, however, acquitted Reed on the most serious charges — attempted first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, which are punishable by up to life in prison and 30 years in prison respectively.
As of Friday, a sentencing date for Reed had not been scheduled.
At the outset of the trial, the prosecution and the defense told jurors that no one disputes that Reed opened fire on a locked kitchen door at a Delaware Avenue residence at about 9 p.m. on June 14, 2020 while disputing with his wife, Evelyn Reed, who was in that kitchen, on the other side of that barrier.
“This is not a whodunit. It’s not a mystery,” Assistant State’s Attorney Patricia Fitzgerald told the jury during her opening statement.
At question was this: What was Reed’s intent when he fired those shots at that house?
Fitzgerald and her co-counsel, Assistant State’s Attorney Renee Alyssa Reilly, maintained that Reed was trying to kill his wife when he opened fire on that kitchen door and that he was attempting to do likewise when, seconds later, he shot another bullet into a kitchen window.
After that last bullet shattered the glass and then ripped through a refrigerator and a wall, Reed climbed through that kitchen window — cutting himself on the shards of glass — and went into the house, looking for his wife, who already had fled — unwounded, according to prosecutors.
Reed testified, however, that he simply was trying to shoot open the locked kitchen door so he could enter the house and talk to his wife face to face amid a protracted incident between the two. As for the gunshot through that kitchen window, Reed testified that he accidentally fired that round when his hand slipped, blaming his alcohol consumption for the unplanned discharge of his firearm.
Police testimony indicated that the five bullet holes in that kitchen door were clustered near the lock.
“All five were along the lock,” reviewed Reed’s defense lawyer, Warren Brown, in his closing argument, telling jurors that, if Reed were trying to kill or harm his wife, it would stand to reason that the bullet holes would have been found at the center of that door, not near the lock beside the door frame.
Brown acknowledged to jurors that it would be ludicrous for someone to shoot his or her way into a house — just to speak to someone face to face. But Brown then emphasized that his client’s judgement was clouded by alcohol.
Moreover, according to Brown, alcoholism plagued Reed for decades and it caused him to lose his business and triggered numerous upheavals in his marriage to Evelyn Reed. The couple had been together nearly 30 years, Brown reported.
The defense lawyer also revealed in open court that his client has been held in the Cecil County Detention Center since his June 2020 arrest and, as a result, he has been sober for 16 months — the longest stretch of sobriety for Reed since he was a teen.
“He was kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was a nice guy, but when he was drinking, he was an (expletive), just a mean drunk,” Brown told jurors, before noting that investigators reported that Reed was “(expletive)-faced” on the night of the shooting incident.
Undisputed trial testimony indicated that Evelyn Reed had gone to that Delaware Avenue home to get away from Reed, who, earlier that day, told his wife, “It would be in your best interest to leave,” after he got angry while complaining about perceived marital issues.
So she left their Weed Lane residence, southwest of Elkton, and drove around part of the county.
Evelyn Reed testified that it was common for an intoxicated Reed to threateningly demand that she leave their home when he got upset about something. It also was common for Reed to later call her, asking where she was, while she was driving around — waiting for him to pass out or to sober up so she could return home, according to Evelyn Reed.
His wife described Reed as possessive and jealous, telling jurors that he frequently checked her cell phone to see with whom she had been communicating and sometimes deprived her of that phone. She used the term “vindictive evil” to describe Reed when he was drunk and angry.
“He gets scary, off the wall,” Evelyn Reed told jurors.
Evelyn Reed testified that she eventually drove to the Delaware Avenue home, where her adult son and family lived. Evelyn Reed explained that, back in June 2020, she had been going to that Delaware Avenue home a few times daily to care for two pet dogs while her son and family were on vacation.
When she saw Reed’s pickup truck in the driveway of that home, however, she left and continued to drive, according to her.
Reed later followed his wife in his pickup truck as she drove around parts of the county and called her cell phone, saying that he wanted to talk to her, also undisputed at trial.
After losing him, she returned to her son’s Delaware Avenue home, went inside and locked all of the doors and windows, Evelyn Reed testified.
Reed showed up at that home later that night and knocked on the locked kitchen door, demanding that his wife let him in, she said. After she continued to refuse, she added, Reed went to his pickup truck, grabbed at least one gun and returned to the door.
“He said, ‘I’m coming in’,” Evelyn Reed testified, telling jurors that she then heard gunshots, which prompted her to run out the kitchen, out the home’s front door and then flee to a nearby property, where she hid behind a bush and called 911. “I told the 911 (dispatcher), ‘I hope he didn’t shoot the dogs’.”
In his closing argument, Brown emphasized that Reed was unarmed when he arrived at that locked kitchen door and that he did not retrieve a gun from his pickup truck until after his wife denied his repeated pleas to let him into the house.
“If I’m coming there to harm you, I’m coming with the gun,” Brown told jurors, before remarking incredulously, “The door’s not open and then he goes and gets his gun.”
Elkton Police Department officers arrested Reed at his Weed Lane residence later that night, according to state testimony, which indicated that investigators confiscated a loaded 9mm handgun and a shotgun that they found inside his pickup truck.
“There were seven bullets left in his (9mm handgun) magazine,” Brown told jurors, arguing that Reed would have fired all of those bullets if he were trying to kill or injure his wife. “He shot five times into the (locked kitchen) door, all along the lock, and there was only one through the window.”
In her closing argument, Fitzgerald referred to the numerous times that Reed had threateningly ordered his wife to leave their home, only to track her down after she obliged, and then she likened him to a “cat playing with a mouse.”
Unlike in the past, however, Evelyn Reed could find refuge in her adult son’s vacant home on June 14, 2020, according to Fitzgerald. (Evelyn Reed had testified that she balked at involving her adult son and his family in her martial problems.)
“Before, she had no place to go. This time, she had a place to go,” Fitzgerald told jurors.
The prosecutor then proffered that the situation of Reed’s wife inside that locked Delaware Avenue home on June 14, 2020 — while he was outside, asking her to let him come inside — was tantamount to Reed losing control over her.
Fitzgerald then referenced Evelyn Reed’s earlier testimony and reviewed, “If he doesn’t get his way, he gets unpleasant.”