Lawyer appears in court for mom charged in drowning of toddler

Suspect previously sentenced for another girl's death

Lawyer appears in court for mom charged in drowning of toddler

JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - A lawyer appeared in court Thursday morning on behalf of a Jacksonville mother, charged for the May drowning death of her toddler daughter. The suspect was already sentenced for the drowning of another child almost three years ago.

Amanda Gayle Reed's 20-month-old child, Mercadiez Kohlinda Reed, somehow fell into her family's above-ground pool on May 11, according to police. The incident happened on Forest Grove Avenue in Jacksonville.

"I was pretty much shocked," said neighbor Amber Rhodes.  "I never really expected something like that to happen in this neighborhood."

Mercadiez was pronounced dead at Onslow Memorial Hospital, investigators said.

Rhodes said she never saw much of Reed.

"All I ever really saw around the house, like I never saw any adults," Rhodes said. "I just saw the kids playing out in the yard with the kids across the street. I always thought that was interesting."

Reed, 27, was arrested on Wednesday and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent child abuse inflicting serious injury, and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. She was released from jail on a $30,000 bond.

"Please, whatever you do, watch your children," said investigator Jason Bettis. "They can't fend for themselves. You have to fend for them."

Because Reed has other children, the Department of Social Services is involved in the case, investigators said.

Reed, who used to go by the last name, Stump, was previously sentenced to three years of probation for the death of 19-month-old Sadie Gates, a child she was babysitting. According to investigators, Reed admitted to smoking marijuana before Sadie's parents dropped the toddler off at Reed's home in October 2010.

The child then wandered out of Reed's home and ended up in a drainage ditch filled with running water, where she drowned, investigators said. Reed was charged with manslaughter in Sadie's death and pleaded no contest.

Sadie's mother, Heather Gates, said the death of Reed's daughter is bringing back painful memories of her own child.

"I've just gotten my life back together and this just brings it all back," said Gates. "I know what [Reed's] going through. But this is the second time. How can you let that happen twice? I don't understand it."

But Gates said there is one thing that brings her comfort.

"[Reed's daughter] is with my baby now," Gates said. "That way, they can take care of each other."

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