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Libby Peterson

Ms. Moser

Period 7

25 April, 2017

The Trial of Dale Reynolds

On September 30, 1999, Thomas Simpson was found dead by the police. The police were

called by Dale Reynolds, who admitted to shooting his stepfather (Simpson), but claimed it was

in self defense. Reynolds had experienced years of abuse at the hands of his stepfather, leading

professionals to believe he suffers from battered child syndrome, a condition similar to battered

women syndrome. The State of Washington claims that Dale acted with a premeditated intent to

cause the death of his stepfather, and did cause his death. This would be a First-Degree Murder

and this claim should have been the result of the trial. However, the jury charged Reynolds with

second degree murder, claiming he did not previously plan to kill Simpson, but this is not

reflected in the trial. The witness made that clear.

The first witness was Jan Martinez, a previous girlfriend of Dales. She said that in

months leading up to the murder night he had been grumpier than usual, in a darker place. Every

morning, Jan would visit Reynolds and they would go to school together. He had a loaded gun

that morning, he showed it to me. He told me he planned to kill Simpson. That statement is

plain and clear, not one that can be argued one way or the next. It can only be said that this was a

premeditated crime. Dale himself said that before that day, he had never planned to kill Simpson,

but its obvious that he gave it some thought. He may not have been planning it for years,

however this day matters more than any other. He knew the potential consequences and told his

girlfriend he was planning to do it.


The witness that swayed this conclusion the most was Dale Reynolds himself. Afterall, he

was the only one at the scene of his death and even though he claims the murder was in self

defense, he shows more supporting his conviction of first degree murder. He makes one

particular statement that came back multiple times throughout the trial. I drank some of his

alcohol to make him angry. Dale says. The Prosecuting Lawyer then asked, Do you feel that

without alcohol, you couldnt follow through with it? Dale told him that yes, he felt that he

needed the alcohol and his stepfathers anger. This shows that Dales full intent was to murder

Simpson, not just injure him or keep himself safe. He was looking for a reason to kill Simpson,

he knew that if he didnt make Simpson angry, he wouldnt be able to murder him.

It could be argued that due to Reynolds was simply acting in self defense. Doctor Pat

Caroll, an expert on the syndrome, says that kids who have it are able to sense when an attack is

going to happen. She claimed that the defendant was assuming the role as protector. In his mind,

it was kill or be killed. However, the prosecuting lawyer pointed out Simpson would beat Dale

and his mother and threaten to kill them for things such as not taking out the trash or completing

their chores. Having death threats was not unusual for Dale, and though he shouldnt have to

put up with this, he did on a daily basis. There is no evidence that anything out of the usual

happened this day that should cause him to be more concerned than usual. When the body was

found, there was no sign of struggle, meaning Dale made the decision to kill him, walked

through the door, and shot him. All planned with nothing to provoke Reynolds.

In conclusion, the jury has made a mistake in their conviction. This was not a crime of

passion nor an event that got out of hand. Dale didnt just want to injure his stepfather, he wanted

to be rid of him, to be rid of him abuser. He was successful. He killed Simpson just as he planned

and now he should be punished. It is a tough case, it could have easily gone either way, but one

conviction would have been more correct than the other, and sadly, Dale has been convicted with

the incorrect degree of crime.