POTTSVILLE, Pa. - "He blatantly admitted in court what he did. He blatantly admitted he put a man up there on a time out. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?"
It was an emotional outcry from Margaret Gradwell, the mother of Dan Dull, the co-conspirator in the Keith Reber trial.
Despite her pleas, a Schuylkill County jury was completely serious when it found Keith Reber not guilty of murder.
"Overall the verdict was good for us. Considering the fact looking for a second degree murder charge and didn't get that," defense attorney Robert Kirwan said.
What Reber got was a guilty verdict for involuntary manslaughter and kidnapping, a felony.
This for the May 2012 death of Bryan Smith.
"Kidnapping is a much more serious crime than involuntary manslaughter," Kirwan went on to say.
In May of last year, at gunpoint Reber gagged and shackled Smith to a tree and left him there for 20 hours.
Reber said it was punishment for Smith ransacking Reber's girlfriend's house.
Reber testified Smith agreed to it all.
By all accounts this was not an easy case for the jury. They deliberated for five hours and reconvened in the courtroom three different times to ask the judge questions.
"A little confusing at this time [with] finding him guilty of the kidnapping but not the felony murder," Assistant D.A. Michael O'Pake said.
Officials say Smith was high on drugs at the time. A forensic pathologist testified it wasn't enough to kill him.
Smith died of excited delirium, the result of being tied to the tree.
Despite being acquitted of murder, Reber could still face up to 25 years in prison.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Lehigh Valley 69 News