Appeals court upholds conviction of man in 'gruesome' Oneida slayings

Published: Oct. 22, 2019 at 11:40 AM CDT
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An appeals court has upheld the conviction of man imprisoned for the "gruesome" slayings of an Oneida couple.

Vance Reed, 23, was sentenced to life in prison for the September 2016 murders of Harry and Lorraine Brown Bear. Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis called it "an extremely gruesome scene. It was an extremely violent scene. And from that, both parties had multiple stab wounds."

Reed was arrested and pleaded no contest to charges of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide. The court sentenced him to life in prison.

Reed appealed his conviction in Outagamie County Circuit Court up to the Wisconsin Appeals Court. He argued the circuit court erred by denying a pretrial motion to suppress DNA evidence and statements he made to law enforcement.

Investigators had recovered DNA from a knife found next to Harry Brown Bear's body and from blood stains found on the Brown Bear's bed.

Reed was identified as a suspect and police tracked him down to a nearby home and spoke with him in the driveway. Reed said he knew the Brown Bears and would hang out with Harry.

An Outagamie County Sheriff's Sergeant says he asked Reed if he would consent to give a DNA sample. "Reed verbally agreed and also signed a Consent to Obtain DNA Sample form," according to the sergeant.

The State Crime Lab confirmed that Reed's DNA matched blood stain DNA found on the Brown Bears' bed.

Reed was arrested and waived his Miranda rights. Investigators say he confessed to killing the Brown Bears and to taking a gun he found in their bedroom.

Reed argues the DNA sample was taken during a "stop and search" without "probable cause."

The appeals court says he forfeited that argument by agreeing to the DNA sample. "We conclude that Reed has failed to establish that he was seized before consenting to give a DNA sample," says the court's decision.

Reed argues that he was never told that he had the right to deny a DNA sample. The court says that doesn't mean it wasn't consensual.

As part of a plea agreement, Reed will be eligible for parole 45 years into his sentence.

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