AKRON — Two months before a Stow man killed his mother by stabbing her multiple times with a machete, he was hospitalized in the psychiatric unit at Summa Akron City Hospital for a week.

Jason Reeves’ parents noticed him acting erratically again in October and discussed returning him to the hospital.
That didn’t happen, however, before Reeves, 22, assaulted his mother in their Stow home on Oct. 28.

Reeves pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the stabbing death of his mother and was sentenced to life in prison at a plea hearing Friday before Summit County Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce.

Reeves is eligible for parole after 15 years. Reeves pleaded guilty to special felony murder, third-degree felony tampering with evidence, and fourth-degree felony assault in connection with the death of his mother, 57-year-old Susan Reeves of Stow.

Additional charges, including two counts of special felony aggravated murder and first-degree felony robbery, were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

A trial for Reeves had been scheduled to begin Aug. 28.

A soft-spoken Reeves apologized in court Friday morning to his family and anyone else he hurt.
“I’m taking full responsibility for what happened,” he said during his sentencing. “I wish it never happened but it did, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about it — and regret.”

Croce went with the sentence agreed upon by the attorneys. She told Reeves she hopes he will make the most of his time in prison and take advantage of educational and training opportunities. She said the records of his mental health history will be provided to the state prison system.

Noel Reeves, Jason’s father, was in court to support him. He and Susan Reeves were divorced, but still friendly. He blamed his son’s actions on mental health issues that plagued him in recent years.

Other family members, including Susan Reeves’ siblings, were in agreement with the plea deal, but were too distraught to come to court and want no contact with Jason Reeves, said Assistant Prosecutor Teri Burnside.

Jeff Laybourne, one of Reeves’ two attorneys, said two doctors diagnosed Reeves as suffering from mental illness, the form of which he declined to identify, but added “Mr. Reeves did not rise to the level of legal insanity, a very high bar.”

“This is a tragic case all the way around,” Laybourne said. “Obviously, there’s a loss of life here and a very young man going to prison. While not an excuse for his behavior, he was suffering from a mental illness which I think contributed to the offense. But we are hopeful that he will be paroled at some point. He’s a young man, he’s got his life ahead of him. I think he’ll do well to better himself as best he can. But yes, a sad situation all the way around.”

Stow police responded to the apartment Reeves shared with his mother after Jason Reeves called 911 at about 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 to report his mother had been murdered.

Police said Ms. Reeves was found dead in her bed with multiple stab wounds. The Summit County Prosecutor’s Office said in a news release issued Friday that a machete was used to kill Ms. Reeve. Prosecutors say Reeves killed Susan Reeves while she slept, then took his mother’s car to the apartment of a friend, who wasn’t home. He woke up his friend’s neighbor and got a ride to the hospital for a severe cut to his hand.
Reeves was treated and released and had a friend drive him back to his mother’s apartment, where he went in and made a hysterical 911 call in which he claimed to have found his mother’s body. He was interviewed by Stow Police and released. The next day, however, Reeves and his father went to the Stow Police Department where Reeves confessed to killing his mother.

According to the Summit County grand jury’s indictment, filed in November, one of the aggravated murder charges is in connection with an allegation that the murder was accompanied by a robbery, while the robbery charge is in connection with the alleged use of a machete.

In December, Reeves pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and competency and evaluations were ordered.

In May, Croce declared that based on reports by two doctors, Reeves was competent to stand trial, meaning that there was a “reasonable degree of psychological certainty that [Reeves] was able to assist in his defense and competent to stand trial.”

The question of sanity, a separate issue from competency because it involves the defendant’s mental condition at the time of the offense, not his current condition, was decided later.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.  Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com.