Reams: Getting shot changed my life forever
SUNBURY - A teen with an extensive criminal history who allegedly attempted to run over an officer with a car last year before being shot by police said in court Wednesday those incidents changed his life forever.
During a day-long decertification hearing before Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest to determine if he should be tried as an adult or a juvenile, Naheem Reams expressed remorse over his actions involved in the June 5 high-speed chase that resulted in his shooting, but did not take responsibility for his behavior.
He did however say he is willing to undergo mental health and drug treatment in the juvenile court system.
Wiest is scheduled to make a ruling within the next 20 days.
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, admitted to using a lot of marijuana. He stated, "I don't want to live that life anymore, and I don't want to smoke anymore because that has caused me nothing but problems."
The defendant 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.
In addition to Reams, defense attorneys Tim Bowers and his wife, Kymberley Best, called licensed psychologist Glenn Jacobson, of Selinsgrove, to the witness stand. Jacobson, who evaluated Reams Jan. 20 at Northumberland County Prison, discussed the defendant's tough upbringing: He was raised by grandparents after his parents abandoned him and ultimately landed in jail.
In his opinion, Jacobson said Reams suffers from impulse control and anxiety disorders, but doesn't have an anti-social personality disorder.
Jacobson said he believes Reams is amenable to getting proper treatment in the juvenile court system and being rehabilitated, although he said his chances of becoming a repeat offender as an adult are 50-50.
He described Reams as a "classic outsider" who didn't fit in well with his peers unless he was smoking marijuana.
The psychologist said Reams, who was 8 when he first experienced marijuana, doesn't pose a threat to others.
Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini, who is seeking to prosecute Reams as an adult, countered Jacobson's testimony with licensed psychologist Lynn Kagarise, of Huntingdon, and William Rossnock, interim chief of probation for Northumberland County and former longtime chief juvenile probation officer.
Rossnock, who recounted Reams' extensive criminal, education and treatment history, said he believes Reams would do "poorly" if he remained in the juvenile system based on his repeated failures to complete various forms of treatment.
Rossnock said Reams did not perform well scholastically while attending Shikellamy School District and had to repeat a grade. He also said the defendant was cited several times for truancy and served multiple detentions and suspensions.
The witness said Reams' delinquencies in juvenile court started when he was 12 years old.
Rossnock said he was previously charged with harassment, burglary, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, theft and receiving stolen property. He also testified that Reams absconded from juvenile authorities and Sunbury police and failed to appear for court-appointed assignments. He also said Reams failed three drug tests while he was enrolled in county treatment court.
He said Reams' offenses have become more serious over the years and the teen was detained in the boot camp at Northwestern Academy in Coal Township prior to his incarceration in the county jail in August.
Kagarise, who evaluated Reams Feb. 21 at the prison, said he believes the defendant suffers from anti-social personality disorder.
The psychologist said Reams told him he never knowingly intended to cause bodily harm to anyone and has learned his lesson.
He said Reams claimed his outlook in life has changed since he was shot and imprisoned. Kagarise said Reams expressed sorrow for his actions and stated he was going to change his ways.
The psychologist, who noted Reams is not psychotic and has an IQ of 80, doesn't fit in well with society and has some major impairments, according to test results.
In addition to mental health and chemical abuse that included an early addiction to marijuana, the witness said Reams has a post traumatic stress disorder from being wounded in the shooting and also suffers from anxiety and depression.
The psychologist said Reams knows the difference between right and wrong, but said he has a problem adhering to authority and believes he's being targeted at times.
He said Reams' motivation to treatment is low. Kagarise said Reams adapts well to short-term (30 day) treatment programs, but fails to continue his proper behavior when released from detention or supervision.
In his opinion, Kagarise said Reams would not be amenable to treatment, supervision and rehabilitation and poses a risk to society if he remains in the juvenile court system.
Also testifying about the investigation were Zanella and Sunbury Patrolmen Scott Hause, Bradley Slack and Brad Hare. Rosini's secretary, Nicole Walter, briefly testified about sending a letter and providing discovery evidence to the defense attorneys after both claimed they never received it.
Bowers argued that his client would receive more treatment and have a better chance of rehabilitation in the juvenile court system.
In his closing argument, Rosini said Reams adapts well to programs when he "gets what he wants" while detained or incarcerated, but not when released.