Schenectady County

Top state court reinstates Albany man’s murder conviction

An Albany man whose murder conviction was overturned by a lower court saw that conviction reinstated

An Albany man whose murder conviction was overturned by a lower court saw that conviction reinstated Tuesday by the state’s highest court.

LaMarr Reid, 31, was convicted in 2007 of the 2001 killing of Shawndell Smith at a Second Street apartment. A second man, Shahkene Joseph, was also convicted.

Reid was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

But in 2011, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court overturned the conviction, finding Reid wasn’t able to confront a key witness in his case.

But the Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that information from that witness was allowable and necessary to rebut inaccurate defense assertions about the thoroughness of the investigation.

Specifically, Reid’s defense elicited testimony about a third man, suggesting police didn’t sufficiently look at him as a suspect.

Prosecutors, though, countered with questioning of a detective, asking the detective if he had received eyewitness testimony that the third man wasn’t there. The detective agreed.

The defense argued that the detective referenced an account that wasn’t in testimony, something that wasn’t allowed because the defense couldn’t confront that witness.

The Appellate Division agreed with the defense. But the Court of Appeals Tuesday agreed with the prosecution.

“County Court was well within its discretion in concluding that the course defendant took would mislead the jury, and that the jury should hear that the police had information that a third person was not involved, since it had heard that the police had information that said third person was involved,” Assistant District Attorney Steven Sharp said in a statement.

Reid remained in custody throughout the appeal process, officials said.

Reid has gang ties in Schenectady, a lengthy criminal record and has been in prison for much of his adult life. At 17, he began serving a four-year prison sentence for dealing cocaine.

While in prison, Reid became angered after learning a member of the Schenectady-based Cleanaz gang — Elliot Felder — had fathered a child with his girlfriend. In January 2001, his brother Kie “Guntalk” Washington, who was also a Cleanaz member, retaliated by shooting Felder in the head as they talked in a crumbling garage on Schenectady Street.

Washington received a sentence of 66 years to life in prison for the murder. Reid was never charged in the case and was released from prison after finishing his sentence in May 2001. Just three weeks after leaving jail, Reid fired an AK-47 through a door at Smith, who was visiting a friend’s apartment.

Marijuana was being sold there, and the two had hatched a robbery scheme. On a lead generated from a New York City case, an Albany police detective confronted Joseph about the killing and obtained a statement explaining that he and Reid were behind the attempted robbery.

Joseph was tried separately and convicted of murder. The appellate division upheld his conviction in December 2009.

Categories: Schenectady County

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