Grand jury to weigh charges for Florida man in I-75 pursuit, murder case

Jan. 25—The man charged with eluding police and causing the death of a West Virginia woman will now face possible indictment next month.

David Maurice Reed, 54, of St. Petersburg, Fla., was arrested on Wednesday, Jan. 18 after a high speed pursuit on Interstate 75 southbound through Madison, Rockcastle and Laurel Counties. Once his vehicle was stopped and a search was initiated, the body of a deceased female was found inside a tote in the rear of the vehicle.

Reed appeared before Laurel District Judge Wendell "Skip" Hammons on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing in the case. Det. James Royal with Kentucky State Police Post 11 testified regarding the circumstances of Reed's arrest.

Royal said he was notified around 10:13 a.m. of a pursuit initiated in Madison County when a white SUV was stopped for careless driving. But when KSP troopers approached the vehicle, it sped off. The Rockcastle County Sheriff's Office and Mt. Vernon Police joined in the chase, which Royal said reached speeds of 120 miles per hour.

"At 10:17, we were notified that the vehicle was entering Laurel County," Royal said.

Laurel County Attorney J.L. Albright asked Royal to define the charges against Reed, with Royal stating that the wanton endangerment charges stemmed from Reed ramming into four KSP cruisers during the chase. He also is charged with criminal mischief for damages to the vehicles, although Royal said he was unsure of the severity and the repair costs to those vehicles.

Once Reed was taken into custody, the vehicle was searched for any items of endangerment to the police officers. It was during the vehicle search that troopers found the body of a deceased female in a tote in the hatch of the vehicle.

"There was substantial blood on her, on the tote and in the vehicle," Royal testified.

Albright also questioned the charges of murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse, to which Royal said the death of the woman and moving the body from the crime scene and hiding it in a tote comprised those charges.

Royal added that when interviewed, Reed said he and the victim, Rachel Carder of Seroto, West Virginia, which is near the Huntington area, had been acquainted for approximately a year. Reed told police that the two were in a hotel room, had argued and that disagreement elevated to a physical altercation in which Reed "put his arms around her neck."

According to Royal's testimony, Reed said he took items out to the vehicle and when he returned to the room, Carder was not breathing. However, Reed said he didn't remember the location of the hotel room, other than that the hotel was a "small run-down hotel" and that he remembered driving through Lexington after that incident. Royal said investigators were contacting various hotels and motels along the route that Reed may have been traveling but had not determined any specific location as of yet.

During the cross examination by Reed's court-appointed attorney, Royal testified that Reed said the argument occurred because Carder "found out he was seeing someone else."

"He said she (Carder) had a knife and said he should have left her in the room," Royal said.

The arrest citation states that Carder had injuries to her face and body, which were consistent with an "edged weapon."

Under questioning, Royal said the primary reason Reed's vehicle was pulled over was because he was driving carelessly along I-75 and that the driver's seat was laid back far enough that troopers could not see either the driver nor whether a seat belt was being used.

Albright said that Reed's charges of second-degree wanton endangerment, which is a misdemeanor charge, should be moved to first-degree, which constitutes a Class D felony (1 to 5 year penalty). Albright said the danger imposed upon other motorists and to police officers engaging in the chase should be more severe.

Hammons sustained Albright's motion, meaning the charges would be moved to the higher level. He then ruled that probable cause existed, and told Reed to report in Laurel Circuit Court on Feb. 20 for possible indictment.

Reed remains held in the Laurel County Correctional Center under $1 million cash bond.