Craig Watkins On Why Man Found Guilty of Murder, For Third Time, Won't Get Death

Categories: Crime
reedj.jpg
Via.
Jonathan Bruce Reed
Earlier today, Jennifer Emily noted that Jonathan Bruce Reed was found guilty of the 1978 murder of Braniff Airlines flight attendant Wanda Jean Wadle -- the third time he's been convicted of raping and strangling her in her Northeast Dallas apartment. (Prior convictions -- based upon the testimony of eyewitnesses, including Wadle's roommate, who was also bound and gagged in the assault -- were overturned on appeal.) She also noted, behind the pay wall, that Reed would not be given the death penalty despite Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins's assurances that his office would in fact seek that punishment. Wrote Emily: The reasons for this change of heart "were not immediately clear."

Moments ago, Watkins's office sent an explanation.
Today, a Dallas County jury found Johnathan Bruce Reed, guilty of capital murder. The Dallas County District Attorney's Office initially pursued this case with the intent to seek the death penalty. However, after Reed was convicted, the District Attorney's Office withdrew its attempt to seek the ultimate punishment and agreed to a life sentence in the Texas Department of Corrections.

"It was never a question as to guilt or innocence in this 33-year-old case," said Craig Watkins, Dallas County District Attorney. "We have been dealing with this case since 1978, and in order to maintain the credibility we have established with the citizens of Dallas County over the last four years, we concluded that a life sentence was appropriate."

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21 comments
Jesseblue1990
Jesseblue1990

The DA never explained why he took the death penalty off the floor.  He doubled talk.  This man had one trial because he said there was no blacks on the jury for his first trial and that wasn't fair.  He has cost the taxpapers more money than he should had been allowed.  He had already been found guilty of rape and several other things when he killed this young lady.  The DA should had stuck to his guns and kept him on death roll.

Ken Schrader
Ken Schrader

I'm sorry Mr. Watkins, but as a member of the victims family I think you owe a far better explanation than that. Perhaps you'd like to explain how Reed, a threat to my loved ones, is now imediately eligible for parole.

Alfredo
Alfredo

He's only 59 so he is going get parole at some point.   Hopefully the Parole Board will make him sit another couple of years at least 

Jerry, Jerry
Jerry, Jerry

How about maintaining credibiltiy with the victims and their families.  I have had to live with this nightmare, since before I was born.   Craig Watkins should remember the only change in this case was a jury technicality.  What facts have changed?   Did Jonathan Reed murder Wanda Jean in a nicer fashion?????   No.   Did he terrorize Kimber less?   I don't think so.  Now instead of this ending in his death.  My family will eerily be waiting on his parole hearing, so we can support Kim in keeping him in jail.  His actions have made her life a prison for her.  Putting him to death might have been her freedom.  Thanks to maintaining the credibility of Craig Watkins we will never know.

Emmy
Emmy

 Why don't you take a poll of very single citizen of Dallas county and ask the people you rule over if they uphold your 'credibility.' But I bet I already know which way that vote would go, and that's exactly why you wouldn't do it. "We have been......we have established.....we concluded..." We WHO?!?! Not me.

is it you?
is it you?

yeah.. just look at this shitty response, bob. look, you gotta get it together, brah. otherwise, VVM might have to flush you down in order to maintain the credibility...

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Once again, Watkins makes no sense.  How does reversing his previously announced intent without any advance notice or disclosed justification "maintain the credibility (they) have established with the citizens of Dallas County over the last four years."

Actually, the opposite appears to be true:  it accelerates the erosion of his credibility even further.

primi timpano
primi timpano

If it was brought as a capital case what happened to change the DAs mind?

EP
EP

What does that mean?  "in order to maintain the credibility . . ."

Frg78705
Frg78705

"doubled talk" "should had been allowed" "death roll" 

Seriously? 

Ken Schrader
Ken Schrader

Exactly, how does lying to the victims family do anything for Watkin's "credibility"?

Smokenmirrors
Smokenmirrors

Judge Cruezot ruled pretrial that the State could not seek the death penalty because, in part, of prior misconduct by the DA's office. Cruezot's 52 page ruling was overturned by the appellate court who ruled that some issues raised by Creuzot were not ripe until Reed was tried and found guilty.

Watkins knows that these issues are now ripe with today's guilty verdict. If the DA sought the death penalty, the prosecutorial misconduct issues raised by Creuzot would be in the news. Rather than face the negative press, Watkins passed on the death penalty which makes Reed both guilty and eligible for parole at the same time.

Scott Henson
Scott Henson

 It means prosecutors had to change their theory of the case because DNA evidence disproved what they claimed at the first two trials, plus modern science shows eyewitness testimony is less reliable than previously supposed and that's the main basis for the conviction. Given such uncertainty, better safe than sorry - if they're wrong, a death sentence can't be undone. At least that's how I read those tea leaves.

cp
cp

In other words, Dallas County votes Dem now and Dems hate the death penalty. Got it?

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

The links in the article state that one of those convictions was overturned because of improper jury selection, nothing about DNA exoneration for the raping murderer. Care to elaborate?

cp
cp

Tea leaves, huh? I missed the part where "DNA evidence disproved what they claimed at the first two trials". But I don't pay for the DMN any more, so that's probably why I couldn't read the full story before making an opinion. Thatnk god I wasn't on the jury...

Yvonne Crum
Yvonne Crum

@cp.. i am in agreement with your statement.  i just wonder if this was his wife, mother, sister or god forbid his child. how would he feel.  what heartache this family has endured. As part of the Braniff Family since 1964 i have seen the heartache they've been thru.  Bless all of them.

Rico
Rico

True. It also means that a man just convicted (for the third time) of a brutal capital murder, and given a life sentence, is immediately eligible for parole.

Jesseblue1990
Jesseblue1990

He received a second trial because he said it was against his constitutional rights that he didn't have any blacks on the jury for his first trial.  A Black had done this before and got a new trial so Reed, which is very white, thought he could pull the same trick.

Scott Henson
Scott Henson

Sure. The theory of the case upon which the first two convictions were obtained was debunked by DNA and the third conviction was based on eyewitness testimony. From the Sept. 27 DMN:

"Jonathan Bruce Reed, who faces a death sentence if convicted, has long been accused of raping Wanda Jean Wadle before strangling her in her northeast Dallas apartment.

"Whether or not Wadle was raped goes to the heart of the defense’s case. DNA evidence found on Wadle’s body is not linked to Reed. If she was raped, or there was an attempted rape, the defense will argue that it was another attacker, not Reed, who killed her."

So the claim for years was that this was a rape-murder, but after the DNA came out prosecutors had to change their theory of the case. In other words, the DA's Office made whatever arguments needed to convict, contradicting themselves over time when incontrovertible evidence debunked one of their key claims. I don't begrudge them that - it's their job and Reed may well have done it (the jury certainly thought so and I didn't hear the evidence) - but I can understand why based on such circumstances the DA wouldn't seek the ultimate punishment. Too many other cases that seemed airtight, including capital cases, have turned out to be false convictions. Google "Michael Morton," for example.

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