CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) – A woman who was convicted of second-degree murder for the 2019 killing of her husband could face a new trial after her conviction and sentencing were reversed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday.
Carli Reed of Moatsville was originally charged with shooting and killing her husband of three years, Marcus Fagon, in August 2019, while he was laying on a bed. Reed was found guilty of second-degree murder in September 2020 and sentenced to 40 years in prison in February 2021 in the Circuit Court of Barbour County.
After review in the West Virginia Supreme Court, the court concluded that the circuit court “abused its discretion by failing to give the Petitioner’s request accident instruction.” This means that Reed’s lawyer requested that the judge tell the jury that the shooting could have been an accident, but the judge failed to do so. Because of the error, the Supreme Court of Appeals reversed Reed’s conviction and sentence.
Someone who commits second degree murder must “feloniously, willfully, maliciously, deliberately and unlawfully slay, kill and murder the deceased,” according to West Virginia Code. According to the Memorandum Decision from the WV Supreme Court, during her trial, Reed repeated several times—four times were documented in the memorandum—that the shooting was an accident and that she meant to shoot herself instead of her husband.
The defense submitted the following proposed instructions to the jury:
The defendant has presented evidence that the death of [Mr. Fagons] was an accident. While it is never the defendant’s burden to prove anything, if you find the defendant’s evidence of accident to be credible, then the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the death was not accidental. If the State has not met this burden, then you must find the defendant not guilty of the offense charged.
The circuit court gave the following response:
I saw the instruction on accident and I specifically left it out. The Court considered that and deemed that it was not necessary and if they [the jury] believe it was an accident then there will not be a crime. So accident being something less than involuntary manslaughter they would assume. So a complete accident I don’t think there’s any real caselaw on what should happen in an accident except for coming in and saying it was an accident and seeing how the jury takes that. So[,] I think that’s a common usage much more than a legal usage. And I think that accident would necessarily be included in a not guilty.
The case will be returned to the Circuit Court of Barbour County for a new trial, according to the Memorandum Decision.
As of Monday afternoon, Reed remained in the Lakin Correctional Center.