UPDATE: Nicholas Reed, accused of neglect in toddler's death, wi - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Nicholas Reed, accused of neglect in toddler's death, will face trial

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Bentley's family members protest outside the Dubuque County Courthouse Friday Bentley's family members protest outside the Dubuque County Courthouse Friday
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A Dubuque man facing child neglect and drug-related charges in the death of his girlfriend's young son will face trial.

Nicholas Reed, 36, of Dubuque, is accused of child neglect and faces two drug charges in the November 2012 death of two-year-old Bentley Randall.

News of the trial comes Thursday afternoon, after district court judge Monica Ackley rejected a plea agreement in the works between Reed's attorneys and the Dubuque County Prosecutor's office.

"The court will not be bound by the plea agreement that was reportedly to be entered into between the parties, and based on the review of the pre-plea PSI (pre-sentence investigation report), I am rejecting the plea deal," she told the court.

Her words were immediately met with cheers from Bentley's family members, dozens of whom packed the Dubuque County courtroom Thursday afternoon.

"This is not a circus, this is very serious," Ackley admonished those who cheered.

Ackley also said Reed, while on probation, tested positive for having methamphetamine in his system.

"I need to note, for the record, that according to the pre-plea PSI, there was an indication that the defendant had tested positive for usage of methamphetamine while he has been on release conditions," Ackley said. "I need to inform you, Mr. Reed, that if I find out that you have one more under-the-influence report, you will be sent over to the jail. Your pre-trial release conditions will be revoked."

KWWL reached out to Reed's attorney for comment. He did not immediate return the call.

Many of Bentley's family members were outraged last fall, when the court dismissed a first-degree murder charge Reed faced in this case. Prosecutors said then there was not enough evidence to convict Reed of that.

Before Thursday's hearing, family members said they wanted Ackley to reject the plea deal so Reed can face trial.

"We totally believe that once this case is in trial, enough evidence will come out to reinstate the murder charges, and that is our hope," Bentley's great aunt Bonnie Beenken said Thursday after the judge's decision. "That is why we were so adamant against this plea bargain, because we think that the attorneys for Nicholas H. Reed truly wanted to keep this out of court, keep it quiet so this information wouldn't come out."

Earlier in the day, Bentley's family members protested Reed's possible plea deal, standing outside the Dubuque County Courthouse Friday with signs, saying they want the maximum sentence - and therefore a trial - for Reed. They conducted a similar protest on Friday.

Read more about Friday's protest HERE: http://www.kwwl.com/story/25717394/2014/06/06/dubuque-family-protests-at-dubuque-courthouse-over-proposed-plea-deal

On Nov. 23, 2012, Bentley's mother, Kylee Vandermuelen, left her son in the care of Reed, her boyfriend at the time. When she returned to pick up Bentley, she found the boy burned and severely injured.

The toddler later died from his injuries.

Beenken said the judge's decision on Thursday made her and Bentley's other family members very happy.

"Perhaps, in this case, justice will be served and Bentley's death will be vindicated," she said.

Assistant Dubuque County prosecutor Chris Corken said the next step in this case is a trial status conference, at which both sides' attorneys, plus court administration, will set a trial date and coordinate expert witnesses.

"Realistically," Corken said, "the trial won't be any time soon."

As for her response to Ackley's decision, Corken said she had "no comment," as the case is ongoing.

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