HOLBROOK — Friday July 19, the Reed family of should have been celebrating Show Low Police Officer Darrin Reed’s 53rd birthday.
Instead, Reed’s son, Chance Reed, spent the day in court with other family members and supporters reliving the day his father was murdered.
On July 19, Maria Lies, a defendant in the Reed case, was sentenced to five years probation for her part in the events that unfolded after the shooting.
Chance Reed told the court Lies was, in her own way, directly responsible for his father’s death even though she wasn’t there when Daniel Erickson shot and killed Reed in the parking lot of the Days Inn during a drug raid on November, 8, 2016.
Chance was among a number of people who asked Navajo County Superior Court Judge Dale P. Nielsen to give Lies the maximum sentence requested by Navajo County prosecutor Lee White — six years in prison.
White presented to the court the reasons why she felt the maximum sentence was justified.
Allegedly, the shooter, Daniel Erickson, showed up at Lies’ home the day of the murder seeking help to escape police. Erickson shaved his face, head, changed all of his clothes, and then said he needed to find a place to stay because his room at the Days Inn was raided.
White said Lies hid evidence from investigators, that she allegedly lied to police about some of the events that occurred in her home, and that she was allegedly a cooperative participant in an illegal meth syndicate.
White did however admit that Lies ultimately cooperated, eventually leading police directly to the cabin at Lake of the Woods in Lakeside that she rented for Erickson.
White said Lies certainly knew relatively soon after renting cabin 16 and dropping Erickson and a 15-year-old hostage off there that Erickson was being sought by police in Reed’s murder and did not call police on her own to tell them where Erickson was.
White also alleged that Lies hid material evidence of Erickson’s presence at her home although she did not deny that Erickson, Jason Hill, and the hostage had been there.
White said investigators searched Lies’ home Nov. 9 finding some evidence, but not all the evidence they also sought.
Hours later, Lies called detectives telling them she found two pistols (a .22 cal. and a 9mm), that were hidden under towels in a cupboard, and a dark trench coat worn by Erickson when he killed Reed that was in a clothes hamper.
Reed was killed with a 9 mm pistol.
White said detectives would certainly not have missed anything so obvious as pistols, especially one that could have been the one that killed Reed, or clothing that would connect Lies to Erickson and Erickson to Reed’s murder. She said Lies had the pistols all along and only told police about them when she realized she could not pawn them (due to their connection to Reed’s murder) adding that Lies has pawned firearms in the past.
In closing, White said Lies deserved the maximum sentence behind bars, not probation.
Defense points to lack of evidence, Lies’ remorse
A skillful presentation of evidence by Lies’ counsel, Ben Brewer, apparently convinced Neilsen that Lies deserved mercy and probation.
One of the people Brewer questioned was Show Low Police Cmdr. Jeff McNeil, who was one of the officers at the Days Inn when Reed was murdered, and one of the follow-up investigators.
Brewer asked McNeil if they had any concrete evidence that Lies knew relatively soon after helping Erickson that he was wanted in Reed’s murder. McNeil said they did not, he said they had circumstantial evidence, but no real proof.
Brewer said that it was then entirely possible that Lies did not know about Reed’s murder or that Erickson was connected to it. McNeil said that was correct but unlikely since it had been broadcast on local radio most of the day and posted on social media and local newspaper sites at the same time.
Brewer noted that it was possible that detectives overlooked the pistols and trenchcoat in their search adding that Lies phoned police immediately after each was found. Brewer also noted that if not for Lies taking police to Lake of the Woods and showing them the cabin where Erickson was staying, it might have taken them much longer to find him posing further risk to the public.
Brewer also noted that Lies’ husband Thomas has physical conditions for which he needs his wife, and that they have four children, one of them just three months old who is very ill.
Thomas Lies testified that his wife has been clean and sober since the events of that November day, that she has shown genuine remorse for her actions and that she is critical to the well-being of her family, especially with one of their children who has a terminal illness.
Maria Lies was also was given an opportunity to speak before sentence was passed on her.
She spoke with what appeared to be genuine sorrow, and in between sobs saying she was sorry for what happened Nov. 8, 2016, the she hoped she could have a future with her family after it all, and that everyone can find closure regardless the sentence.
Judge grants mercy
At the close of testimony, Neilsen said he considered all of the mitigating and aggravating factors from both sides. Neilsen said he found that there was some pecuniary gain to Lies, and that there was evidence of drug activity between her and other defendants in the death of Reed.
But, he said he believed Lies was truly remorseful, and that her freely cooperated with police in leading them to Lake of the Woods where Erickson was hiding held a lot of weight in his mind. He said it is never an easy decision to sentence someone, especially with the circumstances in this particular case.
Instead of a six-year prison term, Lies was sentenced to five years probation with credit for 22 days served. She must also pay $9,160 in fines and fees.
A silent courtroom audience slowly exited the courtroom following announcement of Neilsen’s sentence.