Child Endangerment Felony Deal Delayed after Judge Has ‘Concerns,’ Insists on Reading Probation Report


By Emma Kantor

SACRAMENTO, CA – A judge here last Friday—stating he had “concerns”—delayed finalization of a no-jail plea deal offered parent co-defendants facing felony child endangerment charges for allegedly blindfolding and locking their adopted four-year-old daughter in a box as a form of “discipline.”

Ashley and Jordan Reed appeared before Judge Ernest W. Sawtelle for what was originally set as a preliminary hearing, but after reaching an agreement with the District Attorney Office, it was as a plea proceeding.

The understanding in the courtroom was that after entering a plea of no contest, then next week the defendants would be sentenced to probation.

However, the legal proceedings occurred differently after Judge Sawtelle was presented with the facts of the case. And depending on what the judge saw in the probation report, the offer could be off the table.

Private Defense Attorney Joshua Kaizuka represented Jordan Reed, and David Knoll represented Ashley Reed. Deputy District Attorney Dinah Mielke represented the DA’s Office.

The Reeds are parents to three children: two of which are their biological children and the third child, the alleged victim, is their adopted daughter.

On Jan. 26, 2021, Sacramento Sheriff Officers were dispatched to one of the Reed family homes after a neighbor called, claiming there was a child blindfolded and locked in a wooden box in a backyard and they could hear the child crying.

When officers arrived, they found Jordan Reed and the victim daughter now inside in her bedroom with a sleeping mask on. Her skin was exposed and she was cold to the touch.

The victim was transported to a hospital where doctors noted that her injuries were consistent with repeated cold exposure including “red dry skin, dry chapped feet, healing sores on both her knees, and a bruise on her hand.”

During the course of their investigation, deputies located a wooden box that was about two and a half by three and a half feet attached to a shed in the backyard of Jordan’s home. They also located a similar wooden box at Ashley Reed’s home.

Through the course of the investigation, officers also spoke with Ashley Reed who indicated she and co-parent Jordan Reed had adopted victim Ms. Doe when she was 18 months old.

Ashley said that they had built the wooden boxes at both of their houses for consistent discipline of the child where Doe would have to go into the box and wash the walls of the box with a sponge.

Doe was only permitted to leave the box to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom and, in order to do so, she had to put her hands on her head to signal to her parents that she had to go to the bathroom.

During her conversation with officers, A. Reed also clarified that her two biological sons were not disciplined in this way.

The two biological sons pointed out in an interview how Doe was treated differently. For example, on the most recent Christmas, the boys received toys but Doe only received a new sponge and bucket.

The parental rights have since been terminated for the victim in this case

After DDA Mielke presented the facts of this case to Judge Sawtelle he said he “has some significant concerns” and was no longer willing to take this plea in the manner in which the resolution had been framed.

Judge Sawtelle explained that because he did not know the background of the parents and the details that he would have liked to know at this point, he would “take this plea conditionally.”

This plea would be conditioned upon the court agreeing after reading the probation report that this is a proper way to resolve the case.

Judge Sawtelle explained that if he reads the probation report and has a better understanding as to why the DA is offering this probationary term, then he will sentence the Reeds to the originally offered 270 days of probation.

However, if probation recommends prison on this case, then Sawtelle would allow the withdrawal of their pleas and essentially start this case over with the knowledge that maximum sentencing time would equate to six years.

After taking a break to allow the defense to speak with their clients regarding this conditional plea, the Reeds pleaded no contest to this conditional plea.

Sentencing was pushed out to allow time for Judge Sawtelle to read the probation report and is now set to occur on March 14.


About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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