Testimony concludes in Wallin-Reed murder trial
Jurors hear taped interview of Wallin-Reed recorded hours after the shootings
Gregory Chad Wallin-Reed told investigators he didn’t set out to kill the men who stole his solar lights.
“My objective was to get their license plate number and to call the sheriff and report these guys,” he said. “It wasn’t to go and … it wasn’t to go and do this.”
Wallin-Reed didn’t testify in his murder trial last week. The defense rested its case after less than an hour of new testimony Thursday, Sept. 19.
However, before the prosecution rested, jurors listened to a taped interview by Wallin-Reed recorded just hours after the shootings.
During the July 3, 2011, interview, Wallin-Reed told sheriff’s detectives he chased six Susanville men and fired a handgun and AR-15 assault weapon at their fleeing car. He said he began shooting after someone in the car fired three shots at him.
Three of the men in the car were wounded in the July 2, 2011, shooting near Antelope Lake. The car’s driver, 20-year-old Rory McGuire, died two days later from a gunshot wound to the head.
Sheriff’s detective Bill Elliott testified that Wallin-Reed was considered a victim when the interview began. But by the end of the interview session, Elliott said, Wallin-Reed was a suspect.
During the interview, Elliott told Wallin-Reed that if investigators didn’t find the men had a gun “that’s gonna put a big hole in what we’re discussing right now. You gotta agree with that. Correct?”
“Yes.” Wallin-Reed replied.
“I shoulda just stopped. I shoulda stopped,” Wallin-Reed told Elliott. “There’s never a good reason to kill somebody, you know?”
The jury of 10 women and two men listened to Wallin-Reed’s taped interview during two court sessions.
They heard Wallin-Reed tell Elliott and Detective Sgt. Steve Peay that he was a former Army Ranger whose instincts and training kicked in once he started taking gunfire. He told them he was “in the zone.”
“That’s what the military trains you to do, is to (expletive), you know, react,” Wallin-Reed said. “They train you to do that (expletive), react on foot, react on (expletive) cars. … Those kids didn’t have a (expletive) chance.”
Wallin-Reed was never an Army Ranger, according to his military records. He did receive extensive combat training, but never faced combat during his three years in the Army.
Wallin-Reed said he was relaxing on the deck of his cabin with friends on the night of July 2, 2011, when he saw the car stop at the end of his driveway and turn off its lights.
He told investigators that the same thing had happened the night before. He said the previous night’s incident woke him and his wife and kids and that they all feared for their safety.
He said he saw a person running off with two solar lights and he decided to do something about it.
“I’m gonna go get these sons of a guns — or sons of a bitches, is actually what I said,” Wallin-Reed told investigators.
He said he jumped in his truck and was soon “about 50 feet behind ’em.”
“They turned on their spotlight, shining it back at me, I guess to distract me, and then, uh, the next thing I notice there was, you know, reports of a firearm or flashes coming from the car, and then they started chucking the lights back at me,” he said. “I fired four shots at that time at them.”
Wallin-Reed said the car, which continued to have a spotlight pointing at him, eventually went down a dirt road “and then the car all of a sudden did this U-turn to lose me.”
That’s when he said he “drew down” on the car and fired the AR-15.
He said he fired three shots at the car. Investigators found eight shell casings from the AR-15 at the scene.
He said the car went about a quarter-mile before it “crashed” on the side of the road.
Wallin-Reed said he drove up to the car and got out with his rifle, pointing it at the car. He said there were three people in the car and two of them had their hands up. He didn’t know three of the men had fled and were hiding in the tall grass.
He said that as he approached the car “this kid (said) ‘I give up. I give up. I didn’t mean to do anything.’”
“I was like, ‘What the (expletive) are you guys doing? I got kids up there. What the hell are you guys doing this for? What the hell did I do to you?’” Wallin-Reed said.
He said that’s when the men in the car told him they thought their friend (McGuire) was dead.
Wallin-Reed said he walked around to the driver’s side and saw the driver slumped over.
“You guys stay (expletive) here. Get some (expletive) help or something,” Wallin-Reed said he told the men. “I’m gonna go (expletive) call the cops. I coulda (expletive) killed y’all.”
The detectives asked why he didn’t leave the scene after he shot at the car and it stopped. They asked Wallin-Reed why he would walk up to the car and into a possibly threatening situation.
“I guess that’s what you’re trained to do,” Wallin-Reed answered. “To neutralize the threat, to secure it.
“If you’re engaged you don’t just fire rounds and walk away. You engage the objective. … And make sure the objective is no longer a threat. … (I didn’t know if) they’re gonna go back to my cabin and … and (expletive) kill my kids, or something.”
When Wallin-Reed returned to the cabin, his wife said she knew something was wrong.
“He came inside and he looked at me and he said ‘I think I shot one of ’em,’” Kerri Wallin-Reed told the detectives.
“And we just looked at each other. And he said, ‘I’m really sorry.’ And I said, ‘I love you.’”
The defense rests its case
After the prosecution called more than two dozen witnesses and presented mounds of evidence over a period of three weeks, the defense rested its case after less than an hour of new testimony from three witnesses.
Wallin-Reed’s wife, Kerri, and the couple’s two young daughters were the only defense witnesses to testify Thursday, Sept. 19.
Kerri Wallin-Reed told jurors about her and her family being awakened on consecutive nights by people making noise and shining a spotlight at the end of their driveway.
“It scared us, tremendously,” she said, adding that her husband was scared as well. “He was concerned. He was worried for all of our safety.”
She described her husband as “distraught” when he returned to their cabin following the shootings. She said he was crying and that she had never seen him act that way before.
Wallin-Reed, who showed little expression during the first weeks of the trial, smiled and acknowledged his daughters (aged 12 and 10) as they took the stand.
At least one juror appeared to wipe away tears when the oldest girl covered her face and cried before beginning her testimony.
Some of Wallin-Reed’s friends and family became emotional at seeing the young girls on the witness stand.
District Attorney David Hollister didn’t cross-examine either of the girls after their testimony.
Other than a forensic expert, who testified the week before, that was the extent of the defense testimony.
Jurors view the scene
On Tuesday, Sept. 17, the jurors, along with Judge Ira Kaufman, the attorneys and the bailiff, were transported to the scene of the shootings.
The tour began with a stop at Wallin-Reed’s cabin along the Janesville Grade and followed the route of the 7.6-mile crime scene. It ended on the dirt road and meadow where the final shots were fired.
The jurors viewed the scene during daylight hours and then viewed it again after dark, to simulate the way it looked when the shootings took place.
Closing arguments were scheduled to begin Tuesday, Sept. 24.
Judge Kaufman told jurors they could begin deliberations as soon as today (Sept. 25).
The trial is being held in Plumas County Superior Court in Quincy.