By Ed Brock
The mention of the death penalty set off a chaotic scuffle between supporters of a man accused of killing a 2-year-old boy and the boy's family.
A first appearance hearing for 18-year-old Torrin Desmond Reese had just ended when several people there to support him and the parents of the victim, Xavier Miranda, exchanged words in the courtroom.
Reese is charged with murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping in connection with the Feb. 10 robbery attempt at the Forest Park apartment where Miranda lived. Xavier was killed in a shootout between a robber and the boy's father, 22-year-old William Miranda Jr.
Miranda's mother, 22-year-old Chimere Calloway, broke down in tears in the hallway and then began telling members of the media that she no longer wanted leniency for Reese as she had said shortly after his arrest.
"I want him to get the death penalty, period," Calloway said. "I want him to die."
At that point a man who had come to court for Reese began shouting and both sides erupted. Sheriff's deputies and other family members tried to hold the male Reese supporter back while one deputy kept a Tazer stun gun aimed at his chest.
Calloway continued to shout as Reese's supporters were quickly ushered from the courthouse. She acknowledged that previously she had said she did not want the death penalty for Reese but then she had thought about it.
"He deserves (the death penalty) ... My son didn't have a chance," Calloway said, adding that seeing Reese in court made her feel bad. "He ruined my life. He ripped my heart out."
Reese's supporters lingered for a while in the parking lot as deputies looked on. Calloway and the others remained upstairs until they left.
One woman among Reese's supporters who said she was "like his little sister" gave reporters a message for Reese.
"We love you and we're going to support you," she said. "We know you're not that type of person."
During the hearing Reese told Magistrate Court Chief Judge Daphne Walker that he had only finished school to the eighth grade and needed a court appointed lawyer. Walker granted that request and also scheduled Reese's preliminary hearing for April 28.
William Miranda, who did not participate in the shouting match, said he was unmoved to hear about Reese's situation.
"They're a lot of idiots out there like that," Miranda said. "I just want to see him gone. They can bury him right here, that's where I want him."
Clayton County police officers arrested Reese without incident around 2:50 a.m. Saturday at a residence on Summerbrook Road, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said. Turner said Reese admitted to his involvement in the robbery in which Xavier was killed.
During that incident a man came to the apartment in Hunter's Bay Apartments where the family lives and forced his way in around 7:10 p.m. He demanded money and at one point grabbed Xavier, held the gun to his head and started counting down.
A relative entered the apartment and interrupted the robbery, shortly after which William Miranda and the robber exchange gunfire. Xavier was hit in the neck.
Miranda and Calloway had just received a large tax refund check. Turner said Reese know the family was coming into money but he didn't specify if Reese knew about the tax refund.