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Gregory Chad Wallin-Reed reads a statement to the family of Rory McGuire as defense attorney John Ohlson listens during Wallin-Reed’s sentencing Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Plumas County courthouse in Quincy. Photos by Dan McDonald
Gregory Chad Wallin-Reed’s voice cracked as he turned in his courtroom seat and addressed the family of the man he killed more than two years ago.
“I know that there are no words that I can offer that will give you relief from the pain that you experience every moment of every day,” he said.
Moments later, Plumas County Superior Court Judge Ira Kaufman sentenced Wallin-Reed to 84 years in prison for the July 2011 shooting that killed 20-year-old Rory McGuire and wounded two of McGuire’s friends.
The Thursday, Nov. 21, sentencing at the Plumas County courthouse in Quincy included emotional statements from McGuire’s mother and sisters, as well as a statement from Wallin-Reed’s wife, Kerri.
Kerri Wallin-Reed told the courtroom audience, which included the McGuire family and friends, and some of the survivors of the July 2, 2011, shooting, that she was profoundly sorry for their loss.
“The McGuire family is in our prayers,” she said. She also expressed sorrow for her own family, noting that their three children would “have to grow up without their dad.”
“My husband is not a horrible person,” Kerri Wallin-Reed said. “He is a loving, kind person. He is the rock of our family. He loves his children so much.”
Before the Wallin-Reeds spoke, McGuire’s mother, Carol Starzer, and his sisters, Shawna McGuire and Faith Fox, talked about losing their son and brother.
The three women cried as they separately tried to read their statements on the witness stand.
“I just want to tell everyone that I miss my son more than I can describe,” Starzer said.
She described her son as a lively and caring person. “He was loved by so many people,” she said.
She said his personality matched his bright red hair. It was so obvious when he was born that she changed his name. She said Colin didn’t fit, and changed it to Rory. “Rory means ‘red king’ in Irish,” she said.
Shawna McGuire took the stand after her mother, but was too overcome with emotion to speak. When she returned, she directed her anger toward Wallin-Reed. She said she hasn’t been able to speak his name since her brother died.
“He has altered the lives of so many people,” she said. “I hope he receives the maximum sentence, because that is what Rory got.”
Fox echoed her sister’s sentiments.
“The murder of my brother has changed my life so much,” Fox said. “Gregory Chad Wallin-Reed is the reason I will never be able share my life with my brother. A life for a life is the closest we can get (to justice).”
And that is essentially the sentence Wallin-Reed received. He won’t be eligible for parole until 2092. The 38-year-old would be 117.
Wallin-Reed, who has been housed at the Plumas County jail since his arrest, is expected to be transported to the state prison facility in Tracy.
On Sept. 26, after nearly a month of testimony, a jury took just three hours to find Wallin-Reed guilty of first-degree murder and seven other felonies.
The conviction stemmed from a 7.6-mile car chase that ended in a hail of bullets from Wallin-Reed’s AR-15 assault rifle.
Wallin-Reed chased the six Susanville men — all aged 19 to 20 at the time — in his truck after he caught them stealing solar lights from the driveway of his cabin along the Janesville Grade.
Wallin-Reed started by firing one AR-15 shot from the deck of his cabin. He used a handgun during the first part of the chase and switched back to the assault rifle when McGuire turned around on a dirt road and tried to escape in the opposite direction.
As the car passed Wallin-Reed, he fired nine rounds from the AR-15 from about 50 feet away. One of the shots hit McGuire in the head. Two passengers were shot in the leg.
McGuire died two days later.
In addition to first-degree murder, Wallin-Reed was convicted on seven other felony counts: shooting at an occupied vehicle, five counts of assault with a firearm, and possession of an assault weapon.
When issuing the sentence, Judge Kaufman opted for a longer prison term because of the violent nature of the crime.
“The court has selected the aggravated term, because the defendant was armed when the crime was committed and he engaged in violent conduct. That indicates he is a danger to society,” Kaufman said.
Wallin-Reed received 50 years to life for the first-degree murder, and 34 years for the seven other felony counts.
Before Kaufman announced his decision, defense attorney John Ohlson said he realized the law doesn’t provide much flexibility in sentencing. He said he wished it did.
Wallin-Reed had no criminal record prior to the shooting.
“The defendant who has committed an offense that is uncharacteristic of him receives no benefit for what may have been an otherwise good life,” Ohlson said.
Judge Kaufman told Wallin-Reed he had 60 days to appeal the sentence. However, the judge denied the defense’s motion for a new trial.
Attorney Richard Young argued Wallin-Reed should be granted a new trial because, he said, District Attorney David Hollister went overboard in his attempt to discredit the defense’s expert forensic witness during his closing arguments.
The judge denied the request. Kaufman said he overruled the defense’s objection to Hollister’s statements during the trial, and he stood by his ruling.
District Attorney Hollister said he felt relieved after the sentencing.
“Hopefully this will give some small sense of justice to the (McGuire) family,” Hollister said.
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