A Jackson County jury is recommending a 17-year prison sentence for Tymon Reed after convicting the Kearney, Missouri, man of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Van Horn High School sophomore Javon Reilly.
The jury of eight women and four men also convicted Reed, 21, of armed criminal action and recommended a three-year sentence for that. Sentencing is scheduled for March 2 before Jackson County Circuit Judge Jennifer Phillips. She cannot assign a longer sentence and will decide if the terms will be consecutive or concurrent. Phillips ordered that Reed, who had been out on bond since December 2016, be held in state custody until sentencing.
Under state law, Reed must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence – about 14 1/2 years if Phillips orders the full sentences concurrently – before he is eligible for parole.
Prosecutors, who had charged Reed with first-degree murder and armed criminal action, asked for the maximum of life in prison for murder plus 60 years for the armed criminal action – 10 years for each time the 16-year-old Reilly was hit by a bullet.
Reed, who had no prior criminal record, testified in his own defense on Wednesday. He said he went to Van Horn as school was letting out on Sept. 19, 2016, to try to talk with a student who had arranged a marijuana sale that ended with Reed being robbed at gunpoint. Instead, he encountered a group that included Reilly and they began arguing. Reed testified that he pulled out a gun, thinking he could scare Reilly and the others.
"I wanted them to leave me alone," he told the jury.
He and Reilly ended up tussling over the gun and he shot Reilly as Reilly tried to get away. Reed said the first shot came during the struggle for the gun.
"I panicked and kept firing," he testified. Reilly was fatally shot from behind. A Jackson County medical examiner testified he suffered five bullet wounds in his back or buttocks, plus a wounded finger that could have come from bullet exiting his chest.
The jury began deliberating early Wednesday afternoon before recessing at 5 p.m. and resuming at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. They then deliberated more than an hour before recommending a sentence.
A handful of jurors fought back some tears as the verdict was read and they were polled. Some family members for both the victim and defendant did the same but were able to keep emotions in check during the verdict that followed an emotionally wrenching trial.
Prosecutors Traci Stansell and Hallie Williams had argued that Reed could have avoided the fatal situation by simply not going near Van Horn, especially with a gun, and that he showed the premeditation necessary for first-degree murder because he could have walked away from a confrontation with Reilly instead of turning back, pulling out a gun and ultimately shooting him at least five times.
Before sentencing, Stansell pointed out that Reed can still see his family and even hug them, while Reilly and his family have no such possibility.
Reed’s attorney, Molly Hastings, had argued that while the outcome would have been avoided if any one of several moments had gone differently, Reed shooting Reilly ultimately was split-second, impulsive decision made in panic.
“Tymon Reed made an incredibly poor, stupid, immature decision, but he did not intend to kill Javon Reilly,” she argued.
Afterwards, Hastings acknowledged the trial’s toll on everyone and said she was “incredibly grateful that Mr. Reed is not going to prison forever.
“That was a realistic possibility,” she said. “The jury was thoughtful in the process to recognize that wasn’t necessary.”
Reed’s uncle, John Poindexter, told the jury before sentencing that his nephew had been raised in a good, Christian home – certainly not to be in the situation into which he got himself.
“We are deeply sorry to Javon’s family for their loss,” he said. “We’re shocked and devastated by this tragedy.”
Reilly’s mother Jackie, who had hoped for a first-degree verdict, had asked the jury to sentence Reed “so that he can’t do this to another child.”
While exiting the courthouse, she said, “I just hope he doesn’t do this again.”