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Arnold man gets life sentence for family-feud death

Rich Cholodofsky
| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 12:39 p.m.
Arnold Police Chief Shannon Santucci-Davis escorts Erik Lamont Reed Jr. to district court in New Kensington in this December 2015 file photo. Reed was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, for first-degree murder.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Arnold Police Chief Shannon Santucci-Davis escorts Erik Lamont Reed Jr. to district court in New Kensington in this December 2015 file photo. Reed was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, for first-degree murder.
Erik Lamont Reed Jr.
Erik Lamont Reed Jr.

Rosella Williams told a Westmoreland County judge Thursday how much her life changed after her husband of 30 years was gunned down during a melee between two families in late 2015.

Donald Williams, 51, was the one person she could have relied on to help her through her pain following his death at the hands of Erik Lamont Reed Jr. on Dec. 15, 2015.

“Donald was a role model to my family and to the youth of New Kensington. Life in prison is more merciful than (Reed) deserves,” she said during a sentencing hearing at the county courthouse in Greensburg.

A jury in August convicted Reed , 20, of Arnold, of first-degree murder for shooting Donald Williams in the torso as the men rolled around on the ground during a fight on Taylor Avenue in Arnold.

Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway sentenced Reed to a mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

During Reed's trial last summer, the defense attempted to mitigate the fatal shooting, saying it was not premeditated but rather the fallout from what was a violent tussle that started out as a fight between two daughters of the Williams and Reed families.

Witnesses said Reed and Williams rolled on the ground when Reed pulled out a gun and fired one shot that struck and killed Williams.

Defense attorney Ralph Karsh on Thursday asked that Reed's conviction be overturned because of the prosecution presenting insufficient evidence at trial.

“No reasonable jury should have found my client guilty of first-degree murder,” Karsh said.

Hathaway denied the request. While it was likely Reed did not initially plan to kill Williams, premeditation could be formed in a second or two, the judge said, and that the evidence jurors considered at the trial supported the prosecution's theory that Reed eventually formed an intent to kill during the fight.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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