Prosecution and Defense spar over what to include in murder trial
In a hearing for Jonathan Taylor, one of four men charged with the murder of Dwayne Dillard, the prosecution and defense argued over which pieces of evidence should be allowed to be submitted to the court.
On Monday, the prosecution argued statements made by Taylor in a 2015 interview should be used to support his role in the alleged murder. However, the defense argued that Taylor was not read his Miranda Rights, and thus, his statements cannot be used in trial.
As the hearing proceeded, the detective who conducted this interview gave his testimony.
In October of 2015, Detective Joshua Branson interviewed Taylor. He had been held in custody for an unspecified pre-existing case. During this interview, Branson expressed to the defendant, who sat in shackles, that he had “the same freedoms here that you have on the street.” This was meant to imply that Taylor was not being arrested and could leave at any point, and did so roughly 12 minutes in, Branson said.
After some deliberation, the judge permitted the use of Taylor’s interview, concluding the reading of Miranda Rights was not necessary since Taylor was not yet being charged or arrested.
Taylor and the defense also argued to suppress certain statements about Taylor’s homelessness saying that it didn’t matter to the case at hand. The prosecution argued that Taylor’s homelessness was relevant because Taylor relied on multiple women to take care of him by providing him with food and shelter and this was how he made a living. Judge Lopez decided that this could be used as evidence because that was Taylor’s livelihood.
Four testimonies were previously given by different witnesses, all of which the defense asked to be prohibited in trial. The judge and prosecution found issue with this request since all four testimonies commented on Taylor’s possession of and access to a revolver, the same type of gun identified as the murder weapon.
As the hearing neared its end, the prosecution argued that Taylor’s motive could be tied to his friendship with a certain group of men. Once again, the issue of prejudice came to light and the concern that Taylor would be affiliated with a gang. The argument was based on the testimony that this group of men had been threatened by the victim, Dillard, and may have caused Taylor to join them in seeking revenge. After some deliberation, the judge decided that the friendship was relevant when looking at Taylor’s motive.
Over the next week, the prosecution and defense are expected to bring in witnesses and decide on a jury.