A former Metrobus driver who helped plan a home invasion in Centreville that resulted in the fatal shooting of a handyman who fought the attackers was sentenced Friday to 221 / 2 years in federal prison.
Appearing in federal district court in Alexandria, Stacy L. Reed, 44, quoted Scripture but showed little emotion as he apologized for his role in the May 2010 incident that left Jose Ramiro Rosales Cardona, who was a 39-year-old father and handyman, dead. Reed said he wanted to give his “condolences” to Cardona’s family and noted that he had cooperated with investigators.
“I wanted to do what was just and assist the best way I can,” Reed said.
Prosecutors had accused Reed, of Manassas, of helping plan the home-invasion robbery. The robbers believed that the homeowner might have cash in the house from his check-cashing stores in Northern Virginia. Prosecutors asked that Reed be sentenced to 30 years in prison, pleading with U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga to send a message to those who think they can avoid harsh punishment by planning a crime but not carrying it out themselves.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Terwilliger said that although Reed was not there for the robbery attempt and shooting, his “proverbial fingerprints are all over this crime.” He also urged Trenga to consider the “horrific, terrifying” nature of the incident.
“I think it’s every family’s worst nightmare — to be attacked in their home,” Terwilliger said.
But Trenga ultimately delivered a sentence less than what prosecutors sought and less than the 30-year terms two other men charged in the case received. He said that those men, Tasheik A. Champean of Suitland and Reynard L. Prather of Oxon Hill, were “more directly involved.”
Prosecutors have said that Champean and Prather went to the house to rob the residents. But when Cardona and the homeowner’s son found them in the garage, a fight ensued and Cardona was fatally shot.
Family members and law enforcement sources have said that Cardona — a loving father who regularly sent money to his family in Guatemala — died defending the people he worked for. Authorities said in court Friday that Prather fired the fatal shot from a gun he got from Champean.
Reed connected Champean and Prather with a man who had done work at the Centreville home and told the would-be robbers of “substantial proceeds” inside, prosecutors said. They said he also showed Champean and Prather the house.
On the day of the incident, Reed dropped Champean and Prather off in a wooded area near the house, and after another getaway driver took them away from the scene, Reed took them into Prince George’s County, prosecutors said.
Reed was arrested in December at a Pentagon bus stop at the end of his route and fired a few days later, authorities said. In April, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a robbery and a related gun charge, according to court documents unsealed this week.
Marvin Miller, Reed’s defense attorney, said in court Friday that the robbery was a “colossal, bonehead, stupid move” but that it was mostly orchestrated by Champean. He said Reed thought that the robbers had only a stun gun.
“Those who know him are astounded by this,” Miller said. “All of his life, he’s worked.”
Iris McElroy, 63, Reed’s aunt, said after the sentencing that she was “pleased” the judge seemed to take her nephew’s background and lesser role in the crime into consideration.
“I’ve been with him since he was a young boy, and this was totally not his character,” McElroy said.
U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement that even though Reed was not at the robbery, he “put this tragic and terrifying sequence of events in motion.”
“He will now have over 20 years in federal prison to contemplate his greed-fueled involvement in the crime,” MacBride said.