Reynolds rejects offer in cold case murder

A 40-year-old woman who was charged with murdering her mother 17 years after Bertha Reynolds was found dead in her Norwich home has rejected an offer to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Irene Reynolds rejected the state's plea offer when she appeared this morning in New London Superior Court. The mother of three has been held at the Janet S. York Correctional Institution since she was charged in 2010 with beating and strangling her mother.

Her case is being added to the trial list now that Reynolds has refused the offer to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter in exchange for a sentence of 20 years, suspended after 10 years served and five years probation. Had she accepted the offer from State's Attorney Michael L. Regan, Reynolds's attorney, Linda Sullivan, would have had the right to argue for a shorter prison term at her sentencing.

Judge Patrick J. Clifford asked Reynolds a series of questions to ensure she understands that the plea offer is off the table now that she has rejected it. Reynolds confirmed that she understood.

Bertha Reynolds, 60, was found at the bottom of a basement staircase in her home at 84 Laurel Hill Ave., Norwich on July 9, 1993. The case went unsolved for 17 years, until the Southeastern Connecticut Cold Case Unit obtained a videotaped statement from a former friend of Irene Reynolds. The woman, Kim Stone, told police she saw Reynolds attack her mother after the two fought about money. Reynolds had been adopted by Jim and Bertha Reynolds as an infant.

Reynolds' attorney has requested that the judge who tries the case review information about counseling that Stone was undergoing at the time of the crime. Regan, the state's attorney, said a detective would be interviewing Stone, who lives out of state, about the counseling and that the information would be available for a judge's review.

According to the arrest warrant in the case, Stone was interviewed by police on several occasions throughout the years, each time revealing more information. Stone told police that she didn't fully tell what she witnessed because she did not want to get in trouble for not stopping the attack.

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