Attorneys for a woman accused of lying to a grand jury investigating the 2001 shooting death of Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales are accusing government lawyers of misconduct and are asking that the charges be dismissed.
The 24-page motion claims that while Shawna Reid was testifying, the lawyers then “repeatedly posed questions that misrepresented what she had told the FBI” when she was interviewed.
“Either instance of misconduct standing alone would warrant dismissal but in combination the misconduct was even more prejudicial,” wrote attorneys Michael Nance and Robert Gombiner in their motion. The motion was accompanied by sealed exhibits the attorneys say back up their claim.
The lawyers also ask that U.S. District Judge James Robart hold an inquiry into the government’s decision to indict an individual to whom it had granted immunity.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, where Wales worked as a white-collar prosecutor, has been recused from the case, which is being handled by trial attorneys out of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. A telephone message left with the switchboard there seeking comment from public information officials was not immediately returned Tuesday night.
A telephone message left with Nance on Tuesday night also was not immediately returned.
Reid, 35, is charged, in an indictment unsealed Aug. 20, with lying to a Seattle grand jury about statements made to her by an individual identified as “Suspect #1,” a person federal agents say bragged to Reid about being involved in Wales’ death.
Reid has pleaded not guilty to the charges in what is the first indictment to be filed in the case, spurring new momentum in the 19-year-old investigation.
The indictment was the first outward sign of progress in a frustrating investigation that has remained a DOJ priority for nearly two decades.
The FBI has long focused on a commercial airline pilot, who lived in Beaux Arts Village, south of Bellevue, at the time of the shooting. He had been prosecuted by Wales and, according to sources, is suspected of arranging Wales’ death with the help of someone who served as an intermediary with the hit man.
Wales, 49, was shot several times Oct. 11, 2001, while sitting at a computer in the basement of his hilltop Queen Anne home. The killer slipped into Wales’ backyard, fired several shots through a basement window about 10:40 p.m., and fled.
If Wales was killed as a result of his job, he would be the first federal prosecutor killed in the line of duty in U.S. history.
Federal prosecutors allege Reid told investigators during an August 2017 interview the man identified as “Suspect #1” bragged to her that he had been involved “in the murder of a quote, judge or attorney that lives on top of a hill, end quote.”
But when Reid testified before a grand jury in February 2018, she denied making those statements, according to the two-count indictment.
The motion alleges Reid had been promised immunity from prosecution if she provided information to the grand jury about “Suspect #1,” who is identified by the defense as “Chris G.”
Reid claims in the motion she was improperly told she had to incriminate herself because she had been given immunity for testimony against “Suspect #1.” However, once in front of the jury and under oath, Reid was equivocal, at one point denying she had ever told the agents “Suspect #1” had said anything about killing a judge or lawyer on a hill. She also denied that he had once driven her past the home where it happened, when she had told agents otherwise.
According to the motion, Reid said she may have told detectives that information at one point, “but didn’t mean it.”
Reid’s attorneys argued she was presented with an “impossible dilemma” in which she couldn’t acknowledge a previous lie without violating her immunity agreement and exposing herself to obstruction charges, which were eventually filed.
The motion alleges there are conflicting dates in the notes taken by agents and detectives who interviewed her and that no attempt was made to reconcile that information. In particular, Reid claims she was 16 in 2001 and didn’t start dating Chris G., or “Suspect #1,” until she was 18.
Family members have told The Seattle Times that Reid ran in a small circle of friends around that time that included both Suspect #1 and another man, who FBI agents have said might be the hit man hired to shoot Wales. That individual has been identified, but not arrested.
Court records and hearings in recent months have revealed Reid has struggled with drugs and mental illness over the years and she was taken back into custody at one point after her probation officer said she tested positive for cocaine. She has since been released into treatment and the custody of her fiancé.