First Trial in Urn Theft Case Set For Next Week

Merced Sun Star || 14-Jan-2014

MERCED - Two men accused of stealing nine urns filled with human remains are scheduled to appear today in Merced Superior Court.

Marc Reid, 55, is scheduled to go to trial Tuesday before Judge Mark V. Bacciarin

Alleged co-conspirator Richard Madsen, 68, is scheduled to receive his trial date today, according to court records.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen felony charges in connection with the May 8 theft of the urns from the Evergreen Funeral Home and Memorial Park.

According to the Merced Police Department, the human remains were thrown away and the urns sold for scrap metal.

Both men were initially charged together, but their cases have since been separated, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office confirmed. Nicole Silveira, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the cases, said she could not comment on the reasons for separating the cases.

Madsen’s attorney, Jeffrey Tenenbaum, said he preferred not to comment on the case beforehand.

During a preliminary hearing in September, a key witness recanted his claim that he’d seen Reid and Madsen unload the brass urns from a van and watched them grind the urns into scrap metal.

The witness, Jason Todd Baker, testified in September that he could not remember anything about the incident in question other than being “coerced” by police investigators. Baker, who was in jail at the time after pleading to a theft charge in August, said he only agreed to testify because he wanted prosecutors to cut him a deal in his own case.

On the witness stand, Baker blamed his clouded memory on heroin use.

Officers denied pressuring Baker to testify and said his interviews with police had all been recorded. Officers also said that Baker was likely pressured by other jail inmates to change his story.

Silveira declined to say whether Baker will be called as a witness during trial.

According to the police report, Madsen wrote a letter apologizing for his “part in taking the urns.”

Both Reid and Madsen remain in custody at the Merced County jail. Reid’s bail is set at $400,000. Madsen’s bail stands at $250,000.

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