The "letter to God" that Robin Reed wrote while in jail in which she asked for forgiveness is admissible evidence during her trial on allegations she caused the death of her 1-year-old son, a judge ruled Thursday.
Reed is charged with death of a child by parent and child neglect resulting in death. She remains lodged in the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville on $150,000 bond.
In the letter, addressed "Dear Heavenly Father," Reed offers thanks and prayers for her family, as well as for her fellow female inmates. The letter concludes, "Forgive me." Additionally, written in the page margin is, "Help me to keep my mouth shut and to keep me from sinning. I did it - I did it."
The letter does not mention a specific act, however.
Defense attorney Donald Tennant Jr. said Reed stored the letter in a personal Bible in her jail cell and it was stolen by another inmate in violation of jail regulations. He argued it should be considered a confession to a clergyman.
"Somehow it came to the hands of the state of West Virginia," Tennant said, "and we are arguing that the letter should be excluded from evidence ... because it is clearly a letter that was written in privacy, held in confidence, kept in a Bible and written to God, the ultimate clergyman."
Mazzone said Tennant's argument was out of the scope of the applicable code, which prevents clergymen, such as priests and rabbis, from testifying about statements they hear.
Mazzone also ruled as admissible evidence the results of genetic testing that will reveal the cause of the boy's medical condition.
Doctors suspected Reed's son suffered from "failure to thrive." The condition, in which infants fail to grow and gain weight as expected, can develop genetically or as a result of malnutrition.
Sufficient tissue was taken from the victim will, when analyzed, definitively show if the child's failure to thrive condition was caused by genetics or his home environment. Results are expected to be available two to four weeks from testing.
"The evidence, particularly with genetic testing, could be exculpatory or inculpatory," Mazzone said. "I think it's important and relevant evidence for the jury to hear."
Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Jenna Perkins said the child's weight gain while in the hospital is strong evidence he was neglected at home and the condition was not genetic or metabolic.
"It is the continuation of the story of this child's sorry life," Perkins said. "This is the type of condition he was in before his mother killed him that night."
Mazzone granted defense counsel's request to continue the trial until Oct. 15. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27.
Wheeling police found Reed's son dead upon their arrival at her Grandview Street home the morning of Jan. 22, 2011. An autopsy report states the child died as the result of abusive closed head injury, and it lists the manner of death as homicide.
If convicted, Reed faces 13-55 years in prison.