The lawyer for a 27-year-old man convicted of sending life threatening text messages to two former girlfriends said Friday that his client is a "goofy kid" whose 10 days locked up were enough.
The time Mark Ronald Reed spent in the Benton County jail after his arrest "made a dramatic impression" on the Richland man, said Spokane attorney Christopher Bugbee.
He asked the court to give Reed credit for time served for his two cyberstalking convictions, both gross misdemeanors.
"The risk that this case made to his life made a huge impression on him. It doesn't do any further good" to order more jail time, Bugbee said.
Superior Court Judge Robert Swisher said he was accepting the defense lawyer's argument that the "10 days of hard time" was a learning experience for Reed.
In giving Reed a 354-day suspended sentence with credit for the time he already spent behind bars, Swisher rejected the prosecutor's request for 20 more days in jail. Deputy Prosecutor Megan Whitmire suggested Reed could do the extra time on jail work release or work crew.
"Mr. Reed, the offenses that you're charged with, they're just juvenile ... and I've seen more text messages than I've seen in my life," Swisher said. "What you did was just juvenile. ... Maybe that is not a politically correct thing to say, but threatening to kill someone?"
"Typically I would accept the state's recommendation, but typically most of our people haven't done 10 days before they get to this stage," he added.
According to court documents, a woman called Kennewick police in February 2011 to report death threats made by Reed, her ex-boyfriend. The woman said she had met with another former girlfriend of Reed's to discuss this "common problem," and the two confronted Reed, who became defensive, documents said.
He reportedly later sent text messages to both women, one of the messages saying, "You know you (are) all going to die, right?" Other messages mentioned putting "2 in your chest" and "I'll show you how psycho I really am."
Prosecutors said in court documents that Reed had claimed to be an assassin, telling women he has killed people and is too dangerous to be stopped.
However, those allegations were not found by Benton County jurors, who rejected the original two charges each of felony harassment and felony cyberstalking and returned guilty verdicts for two counts of gross misdemeanor cyberstalking. That charge involves using electronic communication, other than an actual telephone call, to harass or intimidate a person.
Items seized by police during a search of his home included a 12-gauge, double-barrel shotgun and a semiautomatic handgun, court documents said. Reed told officers during an interview that he aspires to be a policeman."
Whitmire reminded the judge that Reed was seeing a woman at work when his fiancee and the other woman found out about each other, and things went south from there.
Whitmire said it was "a rather disturbing situation," involving the text messages that went back and forth.
Bugbee pointed out that the jury clearly accepted the defense theory of the case in convicting Reed on lesser alternative crimes.
The prosecutor described it as bizarre behavior, Bugbee said, but once you get to know Reed you can see where that comes from. Reed is a young man who acts like a goofy, immature kid, he said.
"When I met Mr. Reed, he had very little understanding of how court works. I think he has the same naive understanding of what it means to be in a relationship," Bugbee told the court.
While the case was pending, Reed came to realize just what could occur if he was convicted of a felony and the potential consequences of his poor decisions, he said. Reed was nervous when the jury came back but was "very grateful for the verdict," he said.
"He is growing, he is evolving. He's got a long ways to go, there is no question about it," Bugbee said, adding that his client has a lot of maturing to do if he wants to be a law enforcement officer.
Reed said he takes responsibility for "getting into a text message war" and should have just shut up and not said anything to the women. He apologized to the women for his actions.
"This past year I learned so much about life. What's important, how the justice system works and even how small consequences can turn into big deals after a while," he told the court. "I just need to refocus and learn from all my mistakes, which I really have."
Reed can appeal his convictions. A notice of intent must be filed within a month.