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Rider found guilty of murder, sentenced to 30 years

By Robin Y. Richardson
Sept. 27, 2012 at 10 p.m.

A 12-person jury sentenced Colin Christopher Rider to 30 years in prison on Thursday after finding him guilty of murdering Carroll Gene Reeves, of Hallsville.

It took the jury about an hour to deliberate on the sentence as well as an hour to deliberate on the verdict following the guilty/innocence phase of the trial.

Rider, 31, was facing anywhere between five to 99 years. Harrison County District Attorney Coke Solomon asked the jury to sentence the defendant to life.

"I'm going to be asking you to sentence Colin Rider for the rest of his life in jail… because he took Carroll Reeves' life from him," Solomon said during closing arguments in the punishment phase.

Solomon said witnesses for the defense testified that Rider deserves a chance in life. He said Reeves deserved a chance, too.

And while disappointed in the sentencing, Solomon said after the trial that he respects the jury's decision.

"There were a lot of factors to consider," he said. "The jury felt it was appropriate. That's the way the system works.

"We support it," Solomon said of the system.

During closing arguments, Rider's attorney, Rick Hagan, told jurors that he respected their decision on the verdict. Reflecting on witnesses' testimonies, Hagan described Rider as "a good man who is tortured by drugs." He asked jurors to give him a sentence that would punish him as well as give him a chance to rehabilitate.

Solomon said Rider has proven that he doesn't want rehabilitation.

"He continuously makes the personal decision to go back to where he is now," said Solomon, noting Rider went to prison back in 2006, serving three years on two felony convictions.

He noted Rider even went to rehab before and has not made a personal decision to be reformed.

"Colin made a decision to go back to drugs, to go back to the life that he knew," said Solomon.

"Now, he's (made) an ultimate decision; he's taken a man's life," he said.

He said Rider took 52-year-old Reeves from his family consisting of three adult children, one of which couldn't bear coming to trial because it affected him so much.

"This is about taking away his freedom for taking away their son, their dad, their brother," Solomon said, looking at Reeves' loved ones, who sat closely together, consoling each other, in the gallery.

Speaking on behalf of her siblings and family, Leslie Reeves, the victim's youngest daughter and middle child, addressed Rider following the sentencing, sharing how his actions have caused her family pain.

"We, Carroll Reeves' children, do not seek vengeance for the loss of our father, nearly justice for our suffering," she said, trying to contain her tears.

"We're not filled with hatred," she said, adding they are, however, filled with feelings of sadness.

Ms. Reeves said at ages 19, 23 and 28, she and her siblings became responsible for their father's estate, taking on a mortgage and having to sell their childhood home.

"Stepping into that house in his absence was haunting," she said, sharing the place where they once felt safe was marred by Rider's actions. "It was difficult to walk through the door and not imagine his pain."

She reminisced on the times they spent with their dad, the holidays they shared and the time he devoted to them attending all of their activities - dance recitals, choir concerts and Christmas plays.

"Carroll Reeves was the kindest dad who showed up for us no matter what," she said. "He was always there proudly supporting us and loving us unconditionally."

She said it's hard to think he won't be there to help celebrate any future milestones, to teach her brother how to be a good man, walk her down the aisle, shake the hand of the man who will marry her sister or be there for the future births of his grandchildren.

Ms. Reeves said since his death on Oct. 16, 2010, they have been forced to take on hefty tasks like planning their father's funeral. Her brother even put his college plans on hold to help their 70-year-old grandmother run the brake and muffler business that the victim operated for more than 20 years in Longview.

"We have to live with your actions," she said, urging Rider to look at her and her family's grieving faces.

"To call breaking into a man's home and shooting him in the back self defense is nothing less than ludicrous," she said. "Our family bears the burden of the pain of this senseless violence."

She said their father raised them to be proud, upstanding citizens.

"Our strength today is a testament to the strength we carried throughout this ordeal," she said. "Today, we fight for the future that was taken from him and for our future with him that was taken from us."

"No one will ever hear his side of the story," she continued, telling Rider to remember them, her family, "the people you've destroyed forever."

Rider will have to serve half of his sentence - 15 years - before he is eligible for parole. He will be credited for any back time he has served.



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