Pre-trial conference continued in Sunbury high-speed chase case
SUNBURY - Friday's pre-trial conference for Naheem J. Reams was continued until the next term of criminal court in Northumberland County.
County District Attorney Tony Rosini said Reams's defense attorneys, Tim Bowers and Kymberley Best, asked for the continuance, which was granted by Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor. The new date for the conference is Friday, July 11.
Saylor stipulated that the two-month period will not count against the one year deadline that the prosecution has to bring the case to trial, according to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure.
The county has one year from the date the charges were filed - in this case, Aug. 2, 2013 - to bring the case to trial. With Friday's continuance pushing the conference back 70 days, that pushes the deadline to Oct. 11 for the case to be brought to trial.
Reams, who turned 18 on Feb. 11, but was 17 when the incidents occurred, was charged as an adult by Trooper Ronald Zanella of state police at Stonington with multiple offenses, including felonies of aggravated assault and fleeing or attempting to elude police, and driving under the influence of marijuana.
If convicted of the serious offenses, he faces an extensive state prison sentence.
Reams, who resided in Shamokin prior to his arrest, said he fled from police because he "panicked" and was "scared." He had absconded from juvenile custody and was operating someone else's vehicle without their permission while driving without a license when the chase, shooting and accident occurred.
Reams said his girlfriend was pregnant at the time and he wanted "to get away" so he could see his son be born.
On June 5, 2013, Sunbury police were attempting to clear the 400 block of North Fourth Street for street sweeping when they encountered Reams, 17 at the time, who they said for unknown reasons fled in his car at speeds that would reach 70 mph.
When Reams slowed near Chestnut and Front streets, officers moved in, but police say Reams struck two police vehicles with his car, and caused minor injuries to one officer when he was briefly pinned at his car door.
Reams then revved his engine and drove toward another officer who had his gun drawn, police said, prompting the officer to fire. The shot went through the windshield and struck Reams near the sternum.
Reams spent 20 days in the hospital before being placed in a juvenile detention facility on an unrelated warrant. After being charged in relation to the chase, he was committed to Northumberland County Prison, where operations commander Brian Wheary said in June he would be housed separately from the rest of the population.
Rosini found that the officer was justified in firing the shot.
Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest recently denied a request by the defense to transfer the case to juvenile court.
In his ruling, Wiest said Reams lacks the ability to gauge risks of his behavior and has failed to become rehabilitated after being given numerous opportunities to do so through the juvenile court system.