|5/11/2018 10:50:00 AM|
Next step is arraignment for Valdez
|Austin D. Valdez, 19, will be arraigned on a second-degree reckless homicide charge Friday, May 18 at 10 a.m. He is accused of shooting his stepfather Robin Reeson to death in the early morning hours of March 24. |
Valdez appeared at a preliminary hearing last Thursday, with members of Reeson's family in attendance. Three witnesses were called by District Attorney Larry Nelson. Each testimony was crossed examined by Valdez's defense attorney Jeremiah Wolfgang Meyer-O'Day.
The first witness called to the stand was Timothy Dostalek, deputy for the Iowa County Sheriff's department. Dostalek was the deputy on the call on March 24, when the incident happened. In his testimony, he said that he was "dispatched to 112 Keane Street in the village of Ridgeway for a possible shooting." He received the initial call at approximately 3:26 a.m. and arrived on scene around 3:38 a.m. Upon arriving to the address in Ridgeway, he found a man standing outside who was identified as Valdez, whom he pointed out in his testimony.
Upon entering the house, Dostalek said that he could hear a woman screaming and crying for help. That woman was identified as Melanie Reeson, Robin's wife and Valdez's mother. Dostalek then continued by saying that he conducted a sweep of the house "to check for any additional threats inside the house," none of which were found.
Dostalek then tended to the gunshot victim who was identified as Robin Reeson. Reeson was found at the bottom of the stairs that led up to a bedroom. Dostalek continued by saying that "the top half of his (Reeson's) body was on the bottom three steps and the lower half of his body was on the floor." Dostalek was able to see a gunshot wound on the upper left chest area near the collarbone, was approximately the diameter of a half dollar and bleeding profusely. Reeson was not responsive at the time of Dostalek's finding of him. Dostalek checked both Reeson's radial and carotid pulses.
"I found a faint carotid pulse and no chest rise when I was checking for breathing," the deputy said.
Ridgeway First Responders arrived on the scene and began CPR. Barneveld EMS was the next response team to arrive on scene. At 3:57 a.m., Barneveld EMS contacted the on-call doctor at Upland Hills Health, who advised EMS to stop CPR. The Iowa County Coroner was then contacted.
In the cross-examination section, Meyer-O'Day asked Dostalek, when he heard a female screaming for help, what was Melanie doing when he found her. Dostalek responded by saying that she was near Reeson applying pressure to the gunshot wound. It did not appear that prior CPR was conducted.
The next witness called was Dr. Robert Corliss through teleconference. Dr. Corliss is the doctor that performed Reeson's autopsy. Dr. Corliss is a forensic pathologist and is an associate professor of pathology at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. Dr. Corliss stated that he has conducted approximately 2,000 to 3,000 autopsies, and 100 or more autopsies pertaining to a death caused by a gunshot wound.
Dr. Corliss testimony determined, in his autopsy findings, that "the gunshot wound entered the left upper chest essentially just below the clavicle, which is the collarbone, and continued through the chest wall into the left upper lung lobe, through the base of the heart, through the right lower lung lobe, then through the diaphragm and liver into and through the right kidney, through a muscle in the wall called the quadratus lumborum muscle, and then continuing into the tissue of the right buttock where the bullet came to rest and was recovered through a partial exit wound in the right buttock."
Dr. Corliss was made aware that the weapon used in the shooting was a .30-30 caliber lever action-hunting rifle. The weapon is similar to a "cow-boy style" rifle seen in westerns and is a common rifle used for deer hunting purposes in the area. Dr. Corliss also reviewed the trajectory of the gunshot wound is "front to back, strongly downward, and left to right." He concluded that a wound of this nature is "non survival despite any medical intervention." No cross-examination was conducted in his testimony.
The final witness at the hearing was Iowa County Sheriff's Department, Detective Brian Fitzsimons. In his testimony, he stated that he was contacted on March 24, at approximately 3:37 a.m. being advised of a "domestic situation in Ridgeway that resulted in a gunshot victim." After receiving the call, he made his way to the Iowa County Sheriff's department, where the suspect was also located. Fitzsimmons met with the defendant to conduct an interview. The first interview with Valdez happened the morning of March 24, along with a second one on March 28. During the course of the interviews Fitzsimmons stated that Valdez admitted to shooting Reeson, who is Valdez's stepfather.
Fitzsimmons continued by saying that Valdez didn't give a specific time of the shooting, but that it took place right before the 911 call. He confirmed that Valdez used a .30-30 rifle that was given to him by his uncle. The rifle in the shooting was recovered on March 24 at approximately 8:08 a.m. It was found in the northeast corner of Austin's bedroom. There were other rifles in his room including a 30.06, 50-caliber black powder rifle, a single shot 20-gauge shotgun. There were also three .22 long rifles.
Fitzsimmons said that on the night of March 24, Valdez heard the fish tank break and the disturbance that was taking place. Fitzsimmons said he asked Valdez what he was thinking when he grabbed the rifle. Valdez responded by saying, "you may be bigger than me, you may be able to kick my ass, but with a gun in my hand I'd like to see you try." After grabbing the rifle, Valdez went down a couple stairs and found the "altercation between Melanie and Robin."
In another interview with Melanie, Fitzsimmons stated that she was asked if Robin struck her. She responded by saying that he did not hit her, slap her or pull her hair. She also stated that she didn't suffer any injury. She also said to the detective that she couldn't see a rifle in Valdez's hand when she followed Reeson towards the stairs. She was only able to see a silhouette of Valdez, and that Robin was looking down as he was going up the stairs before being shot. Fitzsimmons was also aware that Melanie created a Facebook post on March 27, which was presented to Judge Koehler. The post read, "Listen, I am Robin Reeson's wife, and he was not, I repeat, not beating me. Never hit me. There will be the actual truth when investigation is over. So stop making the world think my husband beat me," followed by four exclamation points.
In the follow up interview with Valdez, Fitzsimmons said Valdez couldn't recall Robin hitting Melanie and "it all just happened so fast, and it was hard to see because Robin Reeson's shoulders are so broad, he couldn't see anything. When Valdez when towards the landing the stairs he said to Reeson, "Robin, that's enough." Robin didn't say anything to Valdez, let go of Melanie, and started approaching Valdez. After taking three steps, that was when he fired.
In the cross-examination section, Meyer-O'Day asked Fitzsimmons questions including a time of interview with Melanie, if Fitzsimmons was made aware that Reeson ripped a six foot long two-by-four off the wall, if the fish tank being smashed was what woke Valdez up, and if Fitzsimmons had seen ammunition in Valdez's room. Some of his questions were objected and sustained based on discovery, relevance, and argumentation.
After hearing all three testimonies and cross-examinations, Judge Koehler found it probable cause to believe a felony was committed and ordered Valdez bound over for trial.
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