Five day trial ends with five convictions

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2006

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS - A jury convicted a 44-year-old Marcellus Township man of five out of seven drug and firearm charges Tuesday in Cass County Circuit Court.
In a trial that lasted five days, Randall Reeves of 10872 Cranberry Lake St. was found guilty of manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a firearm by a felon, maintaining a drug house and felony firearm.
Felony firearm carries with it a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to the defendant's sentence on the other charges.
Reeves faces up to 20 years in prison on the other counts at his sentencing before Circuit Judge Michael Dodge at 8:30 a.m. on March 10.
Reeves was found not guilty of possession of marijuana, but a conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine was declared a mistrial by Dodge, meaning the jury was hung on that charge.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jason Ronning, who prosecuted the case in its fifth day, said if another trial is to be held, it will be the decision of the prosecutor.
Prosecutor Victor Fitz tried the case that began last Wednesday but was absent on Tuesday due to a prior commitment in Lansing, Ronning said.
He said it was not expected that the trial would last five days as it was speculated to end last Friday.
Ronning said Reeves' bond was revoked, and he was taken into custody after the verdict was reached at 3:05 p.m. The jury had been deliberating since 10 a.m. Monday morning.
Fitz today called Reeves “one of the region's most notorious offenders.”
Fitz also praised the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team (CCDET) for its “stellar work. CCDET acted quickly on a tip which uncovered a wide array of drug and criminal activity by Reeves and others at the property. As a result, the public is safer.”
Trial testimony indicated that Reeves' property was prominently used by drug and property offenders from Kalamazoo, Marcellus and other areas to manufacture methamphetamine and to fence stolen property. At trial Fitz referred to Reeves home and junk yard as a “hub of drug activity.”
Testimony revealed that two of the regular meth producers at the location in 2004 were Travis Schmid and Bobby Richards. Both have been convicted of the burning and shooting death of Josh McCreary at the property in the fall of 2004.
Fitz indicated Reeves may face retrial on the conspiracy charge, as well as other potential crimes at the property which continue to be investigated.
Reeves' property is the site where the skeletal remains of McCreary, 25, of Bloomingdale, were found in March last year.
Sent to prison for 34 to 48 years was Schmid, 23, of Richland, in the methamphetamine-related murder of McCreary.
Robert Richards, 31, of Portage, is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 27 on six felony counts from his involvement in the manufacture of methamphetamine and the September 2004 death of McCreary. He faces up to 74 years in prison.
Robert Richards' brother, David Richards, 28, also of the Kalamazoo area, testified about the drug dealings. Fitz said earlier that he came forward in 2005 because he wanted to end the drug activities that took place in a junk yard behind the Reeves' home. He is charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. His sentencing will be rescheduled since he agreed to testify. It had been scheduled for Jan. 13.
Drug team members testified about the March 4 raid at Reeves' house that produced many items of drug paraphernalia and a 12-gauge shotgun.
David Richards testified how he and his brother, Robert, would go to the Reeves property where he saw for the first time how methamphetamine was cooked.
He sometimes talked with Reeves or perhaps smoked methamphetamine in his house. They went to the Reeves property 50 times, he said.
Attorney for the defense was Gary Stewart Jr. of Paw Paw.