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Court: Man can’t withdraw pleas

Reed serving up to 45 years for three counts of child rape

A Huntingdon County man will not be permitted to withdraw his guilty pleas to three counts of child rape, according to a decision last Friday by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

On May 4, 2018, Jay E. Reed, 60, formerly of Three Springs, entered guilty pleas to the charges, which involved the sexual abuse of children 13 years old or younger.

In early 2019, Huntingdon County Judge George N. Zanic sentenced Reed to consecutive sentences of 7.5 to 15 years on each charge, for a total of 22.5 to 45 years behind bars.

The sentence in the state court, however, was to be concurrent (served at the same time) with a federal sentence of 70 years, imposed on Reed by U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane for charges of possession of child pornography, production of child pornogrpahy and witness tampering — involving the same three youngsters.

Reed challenged his lengthy federal sentence as being “subtsantively unreasonable.”

His federal sentence was upheld last December by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The panel concluded, “Given the nature and severity of Reed’s crimes and the below-guidelines sentence length, the sentence imposed was substantively reasonable. We do not find that the District Court abused its discretion when it sentenced Reed to 840 months’ (70 years’) imprisonment.”

Reed could have received a life sentence on the federal offenses, the federal appeals court pointed out.

The defendant is presently incarcerated in the U.S. Penitentiary in Tucson, Ariz.

Last Friday, a panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court judges that included Mary Jane Bowes, Anne Lazarus and Alice Dubow, upheld Judge Zanic’s sentence.

Reed’s appeals attorney, Christian B. Wencker of Huntingdon, contended that Reed should be permitted to withdraw his state-court pleas because he was misinformed by his trial attorney as to the length of sentence he could receive in the state court.

The defense asserted that Reed believed his maximum sentence in the state court was going to be no more than 15 years and he ended up with three times that length.

The defense also contended Reed’s state sentence was excessive.

The Superior Court opinion concluded that Reed had filed a timely post-conviction appeal, but ruled he had not preserved his challenge to the 45-year sentence because he raised it for the first time on appeal.

He should have raised his issues concerning his sentence either at the time of sentencing or in a post-sentence motion, neither of which he did.

“Absent such efforts, an objection to a discretionary aspect of the sentence is waived,” the court explained.

The Superior Court stated there is no absolute right to withdraw a guilty plea.

Reed’s trial attorney did not challenge the sentence during the actual proceeding or in a post-sentence motion, thereby depriving the county judge of the opportunity to correct what the defense contended was an excessive sentence, the Superior Court stated.

The Superior Court opinion concluded, “Therefore, (Reed) has waived his challenge to the discretionary aspects of his sentence.”

A psychiatrist testfied during Reed’s sentencing hearing in the federal court that his late-in-life pedophilic behaviors were a sympton of a “brain disorder.”

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