Former Cobb SWAT officer to serve 4 years in boating death of fellow officer
by Ashley Fuller
afuller@mdjonline.com
January 28, 2011 12:00 AM | 5289 views | 21 21 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 After remaining stoic most of the day in court on Thursday, Kenneth Reda begins to cry as Sgt. Brent Stephens' widow, Lori Stephens, describes how difficult life has been for herself and her two young children since the death of her husband.<br>Staff/Laura Moon
After remaining stoic most of the day in court on Thursday, Kenneth Reda begins to cry as Sgt. Brent Stephens' widow, Lori Stephens, describes how difficult life has been for herself and her two young children since the death of her husband.
Staff/Laura Moon
slideshow
CANTON - Kenneth Reda struggled with his words Thursday evening as he faced his sentence from Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Frank C. Mills

Reda, a former Cobb County SWAT officer, pleaded guilty earlier this month to second-degree homicide by vessel, three counts of making false statements, violation of oath of office by a public officer and tampering with evidence in connection with a boating accident that led to the death of a fellow police officer.

He learned his fate Thursday: a 15-year sentence with four to be served in prison.

Reda sat mostly silent at the defense table at the Justice Center in downtown Canton during the sentencing hearing, dressed in a blue coat and shirt with khaki pants.

Just before his sentence, Reda addressed the court and offered apologies to all parties.

"Brent was my best friend," he said of the late Brent Stephens of Douglasville, adding he "could not be more remorseful" about what happened.

Reda was driving his 22-foot, center-console fishing boat April 22 with Shelly Powell of Acworth and Stephens, police said. The boat collided with a buoy, which sent Stephens overboard as the three were traveling to Harbor Town Marina, off Galts Ferry Road in Acworth, after eating dinner at Props 'n Hops restaurant on Victoria Landing Drive in Woodstock, police said.

According to the autopsy from the GBI, Stephens suffered from blunt impact trauma, with abrasions on his scalp, leg, forearm and wrist. Other reports have noted broken ribs.

Reda and Ms. Powell were arrested six days later. Reda, who resigned from the police force last May, initially said there was nothing that would've caused Stephens to fall off the boat, according to reports.

Reda called 911 roughly 90 minutes after police say he hit the navigational marker and told the operator that Stephens had likely jumped off the boat. He also said it was just him and Stephens on the boat, but he later admitted he had dropped off Ms. Powell before calling 911.

According to the Cherokee Sheriff's Office report, alcohol was involved and Reda admitted that he and Stephens "had a couple drinks each" before the accident; however, Reda was not given a sobriety test. He also told authorities that Ms. Powell was there to meet Stephens despite the fact that it was Reda who had been romantically involved with her.

Sheilah Stephens, Stephens' mother, testified during the sentencing hearing.

"Ken left my son to die alone in the mud," she testified.

After the hearing, she said she agreed with the sentence.

"Justice was served and I think Brent would agree," she said.

Ms. Powell, who faces charges of making false statements and obstruction, lived in the same neighborhood as Reda, and the two were seeing each other romantically for a year before the accident. She testified she and Reda circled the area several times using a flashlight to search. She said Reda believed Stephens swam to shore.

"I was panicking," she said on the stand. "I couldn't find him, and I didn't know what happened."

She said Reda wanted to get her off the boat because she had "nothing to do with the accident, and it would break up his marriage."

The hearing was often emotional, with Mills getting choked up after the testimony of Lori Stephens, Stephens' wife.

"How could you do something like this to Brent?" she asked Reda during her testimony, which was sometimes tearful. "I will always wonder why."

Reda's attorney, Jimmy Berry, attempted to get his client probation.

"Obviously, we hoped for less," he said about the sentence. "The judge did what he thought was the right thing to do."

Cherokee County District Attorney Garry Moss said he "respected [Mills'] judgment."
Comments
(21)
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DeeplyDisappointed
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February 16, 2011
CCPD:Expect the best, I sure hope you are wrong about the time Reda serves. I thought the standard was 1/3 of the sentence before being eligible for parole. Maybe Powell will be waiting for him, along with his wife (after all, he's in jail now for trying to save his marriage or so he says).
1biglie
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February 15, 2011
What is Reda's wife doing sticking up for him? Battered women syndrome? Id send him packing like Tigers wife did. She aint no fool....
CCPD:Expect the best
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February 15, 2011
Reda and Powell deserve each other. He wont serve the whole term. Maybe a 6 month to a year. Im sure Powell will be waiting for him.
Noneofurbsns
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January 30, 2011
Funny how people can judge and comment about stuff but who are you??? You should learn the real Christian way and leave judging in higher hands!
Special Rules
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January 29, 2011
Only 4 years in prison for killing someone while drunk? Once again, police get special treatment in the courts----most people would get 10-20 years for the same thing. He's an embarrassment.
Sorry
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January 29, 2011
To the poster asking about what Cobb judges were thinking, the case was not in Cobb courts but in Cherokee County. Not that I always agree with our judges but in this case we can't blame them for this particular injustice.
Sadly inept
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January 29, 2011
Four years, no one should get four years for such an act when considering the fact that there was an attempt to cover up the true nature of the act. The fact that an officer is held to a higher standard, four years is a joke. Besides, I believe the law states that being intoxicated is not a defense to be considered in relation to a criminal act.
Serving scale tipped
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January 29, 2011
How is it within the same week in Marietta an 83 year old woman has to serve 3 years in jail for accidentally killing a child in a car accident and is sincerely sorry for her actions, all the while a Cobb Co. SWAT officer gets 4 years for manslaughter---to an officer of the law AND his "best friend"? This makes no sense. What are the judges in Cobb thinking?
Know the Truth
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January 29, 2011
OK, to the character witnesses - how well did you know Reda? Did you know he was having an affair for a year? If you did, then you are not one to vouch for character. If you did not, then you didn't know him well. How many men have this sort of thing happen when they are trying to be good husbands and fathers? Evil compounds evil - an affair is a sign a man cannot be trusted. Reda did well to confess to his crimes, but if he had confessed to his wife a long time ago... We should all learn from this. When you do wrong, fix it as quickly as you can. Ask for forgiveness and take your lumps.
Dustoff
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January 29, 2011
Talk about a real case of taking care of your buddies!!!

Bet he gets special treatment in jail also.

Anyone else would have gotten 50 years to life.
Cobb Citizen
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January 29, 2011
Its a shame when police officers act no differently when they are off duty than the general public. Whatever happened to moral integrity? How could he have an affair for a year and his fellow officers not know? I guess they didn't care or think it was wrong. Maybe they do the same. Wow, he lied to his wife for a year, yet he could still be trusted to be a cop. Makes you wonder.
Hypocrisy
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January 29, 2011
the big mean swat officer, crying like a baby without his badge and gun to order people around like slaves. 4 years? He should have gotten 20. Justice was not served.
Just Wait
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January 28, 2011
Reda's actions left a scar on the Cobb Police that will never go away. If a police officer does not have his honesty, he has nothing. Here's a question not answered, what punishment are the other SWAT members going to receive for not coming forward after they left the same restaurant drinking with their buddies? Why didn't they tell the truth about Reda being there with his girlfriend while his wife sat at home with the kids? Their actions are just as despicable as Reda's and only tarnish the badge for all the others.
Bookish
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January 28, 2011
I heard on the news that Reda had quite a few character witnesses. Just think, his best friend Brent Stephens would likely have been a guy who would have vouched for his character too. We see how that went.

Quite a clever man Reda is, after cheating on his for a year he says his crimes were all motivated by his desire to save his marriage. Surely she can't be buying that can she?
Retired officer
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January 28, 2011
This is unreal. 4 years for lying and killing someone.He gets to keep his mitress and his foolish, foolish wife. I am sure BOTH will be waiting on him when he is out in 18 months. How do you explain that to your kids as they grow up? A Judge stating I didn't want to be too hard on him because he was DRUNK at the time. Makes me sick that I ever knew Ken Reda and his wife!
Jesip Jones
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January 28, 2011
4 years for admitting murder. Wow
anonymous
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January 28, 2011
MOST COPS ARE ABOVE THE LAW. THIS ONE WASN'T. THIS SHOULD BE AN EYE OPENER FOR THE REST. DRINKING AND BOATING DON'T MIX.
Police Officer
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January 28, 2011
Are you serious! What planet is that judge from? As a police officer, I'm disgusted with the leniency. There aren't any mitigating circumstances that carry enough weight for that judge or any judge to let Reda off with such a light sentence.

Plus, how do you get off so lightly when you don't show up at your first sentencing hearing when scheduled? Talk about throwing it in the face of our judicial system all the way to the end. That's par for his course considering he intentionally delayed calling 911 when his friend and brother in blue went missing, so he could tamper/destroy evidence and concoct a story to cover himself and his mistress.

I hate to say this, but all the criminals in Cherokee County should cry foul if they get stiff sentences for anything because that judge just set the bar for their judicial system by taking it easy on a police officer who disgraced all police officers.

SICKENING!
truth hurts
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January 28, 2011
4 years for acting a fool and killing someone,sounds soft to me!
Surpised
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January 28, 2011
Reda is a coward, that deserves to rot in prison. To deny two young children the opportunity to have thier father is unforgiving...and for what to hide a lie. To add insult to injury his record is wiped clean after serving his term!

Shame on the judge.
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