A St. Rose man who has been held as the suspect in a murder was released from jail after the St. Charles District Attorney’s Office did not file charges against him due to a lack of evidence.
Leslie Reed, 19, of 500 Mockingbird Lane, was arrested for second-degree murder after 19-year-old Jared Mealey was found shot to death on May 29 only a few blocks away from his home on Turtle Creek Lane in St. Rose. Reed lives one street over from the Mealey residence.
Shortly after the murder, police received calls implicating Reed in the shooting. After he was arrested, Reed told police that 16-year-old Keywine Bradford had shown up at his home immediately after the shooting and admitted to the murder.
After Bradford turned himself in, he signed a confession that placed him at the scene of the crime, but named Reed as the shooter.
Bradford was originally charged with second-degree murder, but charges were reduced to principal to second-degree murder.
Due to his confession placing him at the scene of the crime, the District Attorney’s Office is planning on taking Bradford’s case to trial.
The victim’s father, Leo Mealey, said he had a strong feeling Reed was involved in the shooting, but was surprised when Bradford’s name came up. Bradford is the half-brother of Jared’s ex-girlfriend.
Leo still believes Reed was involved in the shooting.
"(Reed) was there. He might have been the shooter. Most likely he was, but we don’t have evidence on him so they had to let him go," Leo said. "They are going to have him testify against Keywine because he already made a statement. He was the one who turned in Keywine."
District Attorney Joel Chaisson said the evidence against Reed was lacking because, unlike Bradford, he did not provide any type of confession, a murder weapon was not found and there were no other key witnesses outside of Bradford.
"I am not going to file charges I cannot prove at this point in time just to hold him in jail," Chaisson said.
However, Chaisson said the investigation is still ongoing and Reed has not been ruled out as a suspect in the murder.
"No charges have been filed against him. That does not mean he will never be charged and that we are not actively working in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office to develop leads and to try to secure witnesses that would allow us to bring a charge against this individual," he said. "We simply cannot hold him any longer while we wait for evidence to be developed."
Leo said his family was distraught at the thought that Reed may go free.
"Unless somebody comes forward with some credible information there is nothing else we can do," he said. "I’m upset, the family is disappointed and upset but we go on and trust in God. We are God-fearing people. We are not out for revenge. We are out for justice."
Those who may have any further information about the crime are asked to contact the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office at (985)783-6807 or Crime Stoppers at 1-877-903-STOP.