DUBUQUE, Iowa A Dubuque County Judge has rejected a plea deal for Nicholas Reed, the man who was once accused of killing a two year old boy. The judge says it’s because Reed recently tested positive for meth.
Bentley Randall, 2, died in November 2012 of blunt force trauma to the head. Investigators say he also suffered submersion burns while taking a bath.
Authorities charged Reed with first degree murder. In September, 2013 prosecutors dropped the charge due to a lack of evidence.
Reed still faces child neglect and drug charges.
The boy’s family started a mission they call Justice For Bentley, and just last week they indicated a plea deal on the neglect and drug charges was in the works.
In court on Thursday, Judge Monica Ackley didn’t talk about the terms of the deal. But she says she couldn’t agree to it, because Reed recently failed that drug test. He tested positive for methamphetamine use.
And when Ackley made her announcement, members of the little boy’s family erupted in applause. Ackley quickly said, This is not a circus. This is very serious.
Bentley Randall’s father, Cody Randall repeatedly led his family in cheers after the hearing.
I want him to go to jail for charges he deserves. I want them to bring up more, said Randall.
The family says Ackley’s decision comes after 19 months of ups and downs.
During a hearing last fall, Reed’s defense attorneys suggested Bentley suffered his fatal head injuries before he was in Reed’s care. Instead, they suggested Bentley’s injuries came from Cody Randall.
Cody said, There were other people with me there that night while I had him. I would never, ever do that to my son.
The family says they were dumbfounded when prosecutors dropped Reed’s murder charge.
They’ve since held public rallies, begging for justice for Bentley.
Bentley’s Great Aunt Bonnie Beenken said, We think evidence will come out during trial that could in fact reinstate the murder charges.
Meanwhile Reed remains out of jail on bond while he waits for attorneys to set a trial date.
Judge Ackley said, Mr. Reed if I find out that you have one more under the influence report, you will be sent over to the jail and you’re pretrial release conditions will be revoked.
Reed and members of his family left the courthouse before TV9 could request an interview.