Trial Ends With Man Being Found Guilty Of Manslaughter

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

After nine hours of deliberations, a Pike County jury finds a man guilty of manslaughter.

Billy Reed was facing a murder charge after allegedly driving drunk earlier this year on U.S. 119 and killing Ronnie Church, who was on a motorcycle.

Families on both sides didn't like the verdict.

The verdict filled the courtroom with tears.

It took the jury nine hours to decide to convict 31 year old Billy Reed and neither side was happy. Billy Reed and his family were upset he was found guilty.

The victim's family and prosecutors were upset Reed was not convicted of murder.

“I am disappointed obviously. We had absolute proof that this man was driving on different drugs, killed a man that never saw it coming. If this is not a murder case, I don't know if I'll ever have one that's any plainer,” Rick Bartley said.

Police testified Reed was driving under the influence when he slammed 60 miles an hour into Ronnie Church, who was on a motorcycle at a red light.

Church's family was too upset over the verdict to talk on camera.

“It's very hard to understand how a man can kill a member of your family, take them away, a man who has a wife and kids and not serve possibly more than a year over that? It's hard to understand when you're the family member,” Rick Bartley said.

Reed's family was also too upset to talk on camera, but wanted to say they are sorry to the Church family.

“Mr. Reed's family has a great deal of sympathy for the church family and wish them well,” Attorney Steve Owens said.

Reed's attorney admitted he has a problem with drugs, but says Reed wants to beat his addiction while in jail and change his life.

“Hopefully his life will be turned around and the lives of his family as well,” Owens said.

He was taken into custody after the verdict.

The jury recommended a ten year sentence but officials say Reed could be eligible for parole in about 17 months due to time already served.


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  • by kim on May 26, 2008 at 05:57 AM
    Until the judicial system in Pike County takes driving under the influence seriously this type of tragedy will continue. Not only is Mr. Reed to blame but also the judge that presided over his previous cases. These judges should be ashamed of themselves. I am sure this will not be the last time we hear of such a story in Pike County. I am certain that many more people will only receive a slap on the wrist for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, ultimately harming themselves and others.
  • by Missy Location: Pike County ky on May 25, 2008 at 08:18 PM
    Tragic accident?...Wow, how can one be on drugs, drive a car, and kill someone and it still be an accident?..Lets all just do it, since Pike County lets people by with it!..He was known for His drug problems,Yet HE CHOSE to drive a car,,,I am sorry , but to me that is NOT AN ACCIDENT...he may have not known that he was going to kill Mr Church that day, But he knew driving under the influence could possibly kill another person, and yet he chose to drive that car, & I know Judge Mullins, and he is a Great man, and kindly believes that every person should recieve a second chance. Noone knew but Mr Reed that he was going to once again drive a car while Doped up. My heart goes out to The Church family.
  • by Anonymous on May 25, 2008 at 05:44 PM
    billy reed is Guilty he killed ronnie church he was going everyday and getting is methdone and still taking is drugs this man did not care that he took a mans life if you had seen the tape when he was taken to jail you would see that he did not care if you dont want help there are no help for you i hope for the church family he has to stay the 10years i know that thers no drugs in the church family
  • by AC Location: Corbin on May 25, 2008 at 03:08 PM
    Manslaughter for slamming 60 MPH into a motorcycle stopped at a traffic light? The jurors should be ashamed of themselves!! Did Reed concede that he was driving under the influence? His attorney's comment that "hopefully his life will be turned around" sure makes it sound like he was driving under the influence when this happened. How could he not have been. A fender bender at a traffic light I could understand but not this!! He'll be back out driving under the influence before 2010.
  • by Unsympathetic Location: KY on May 25, 2008 at 10:23 AM
    Who in their right mind has sympathy for Billy Reed???? Less than one year in jail is not punishment. This clearly sends a message to all the drug users in Pike County that it is forgivable with minimal punishment to purposely KILL people.
  • by Ticked @ T Location: Pikeville on May 25, 2008 at 09:28 AM
    Are u crazy???? How can you justify gettting doped up and call this an accident??? This was preventable, Billy Reed made a decision to swallow his dope and get behind the wheel..and shame on you for continually coming to his defense. You asked if I were perfect..NO..none of us are, and no, I have not one family member who abuses or uses drugs and alcohol..we are smarter than that. Let me reiterate...It is a personal choice to get high..those pills didn't just "jump " into his mouth..some people are so out of touch...like you "T".
  • by Jack Location: Pike County on May 25, 2008 at 06:25 AM
    So if you want to get by with murder, just cry, " I'm an addict, poor, poor little me." Never mind that you just KILLED a decent person with children to support. Some fool will pat your hand, pay your bills, and lobby for your release from a minimum jail sentence. Good Ol Ky. No wonder drug abuse and crimes are such a problem, they know they can get by with it.
  • by Lisa Location: Pville on May 24, 2008 at 10:45 AM
    You really have to blame judge Mullins for letting him walk with the past DUIs and giving his license back. Maybe the church family shold think of suing Judge Mullins...
  • by T Location: Pikeville Ky on May 24, 2008 at 08:51 AM
    It's easy to be Judge & Jury when you read the paper & watch tv. If you had sat in on the trial you would have heard good arguments for both sides. This is a terrible loss for the Church family, & I also believe that most families are touched by some type of substance abuse since it seems to be such an epidemic in this area. If you are not, consider yourself very blessed. So think about that when you want to throw the book @ someone. It could be an addict in your family. This was not a murder but a tragic accident. Lets hope that Mr. Reed is able to get control of his addiction & become a better man for this. Yes, someday he will answer for what he has done, we all will, I am glad we have a Forgiving God that will have mercy on us if we will ask Him to. Deepest Sympathies to the Church family.
  • by kathy Location: kathy on May 24, 2008 at 08:44 AM
    there is still a way for the ronnie church family to have some justice and that is from the voters during the next judges election
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