BARSTOW • A 20-year-old man will go to trial on charges that he killed a Barstow woman in her home during a burglary gone wrong and then set her house on fire.
After hearing the preliminary evidence in the case, Judge Steve Mapes ruled Thursday that Thomas Deshawn Reed will be held to answer for all of the charges he was originally booked on, including murder, robbery, burglary, two counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object, arson and vehicle theft.
The charges stem from the death of Evelyn Scott, 58, whose body was found inside her burning home on Arbor Way on Dec. 12, 2008 by firefighters battling the blaze.
An autopsy determined that Scott had suffered multiple injuries due to blunt force trauma, and the cause of death was ruled to be "homicidal violence," Barstow Police Department Det. Leo Griego testified at the preliminary hearing. She had other injuries that also led detectives to believe she had been sexually assaulted.
Reed had known the victim's family since he was a child, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing. Scott's son, Adam, said he and Reed had lived down the street from each other and played together as children, but had not been in contact for years until Reed showed up at the Scott home on Arbor Way the day before Evelyn's death to ask Adam for a ride, Det. Keith Libby testified.
Other witnesses also recalled seeing Reed on the street on both Dec. 11 and 12, Libby said.
Scott's car was missing from her garage after the fire but was later found on Lance Drive. Inside the car was a drawer full of jewelry that had been reported missing from Scott's house. Libby testified that a set of footprints led from the car to the apartment complex on Virginia Way where Reed was living at the time. He also testified that a flat-screen television set matching the description of one taken from the Scott house showed up at Reed's apartment around the time of the crime and was later moved to his foster mother's house in Victorville.
Reed's girlfriend, Desiree Gomez, who was also called as a witness, showed signs of being distraught and gave conflicting testimony as to whether or not Reed had confessed to committing the attack and arson to her. In a Dec. 23 interview, Libby said, Gomez gave written answers to the detective's questions saying that Reed had told that he hit Scott after she surprised him during a burglary attempt, and that he set the house on fire to hide the evidence. At Thursday's hearing, Gomez denied having any recollection of making those statements.
"I don't know what the truth is," she said, shaking her head.
Reed's public defender, John Crouch, pointed out that all of the evidence placing Reed at the scene was circumstantial. He also questioned whether there was enough evidence to show that a sexual assault took place. The judge found enough evidence to send the case to trial, however.
Reed had turned himself in for sentencing in an unrelated burglary conviction in Riverside County on Dec. 16, 2008, and was serving time for that offense when the Barstow authorities charged him with Scott's death in January.
Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or email@example.com