Driver on trial for drag racing deaths will testify he stumbled upon crash scene
Witnesses say defendant was not racing in crash that killed eight, Taylor's attorney says
The attorney for a Waldorf man charged with vehicular manslaughter in connection with an Accokeek street racing crash last February that left eight spectators dead and eight others injured said Tuesday witnesses will testify that his client was not involved in the race and came upon the grim scene only by chance.
Police allege that during an illegal street race along Indian Head Highway in the early morning hours of Feb. 16, 2008, two vehicles were blinded by the smoke and plowed into a crowd of 200 spectators at the highway's intersection with Pine Drive, near the Charles County border.
After a six-month investigation, Tavon J. Taylor, 19, and Darren Jamar Bullock, 22, both of Waldorf, were charged with eight counts of vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and illegal racing in connection with the deaths.
Taylor's attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, whose office is in Baltimore, said his client was not involved in the race and came across the collision as he was driving down Indian Head Highway, and Gordon has recruited eyewitness accounts who allege Taylor was not a part of the race.
Race spectators varying in age from 21 to 46 and professions from a plumber to a limousine driver will be testifying on Taylor's behalf at his May 4 trial.
"These are respectable individuals from the community who also had loved ones injured or killed [in the race], so they have no interest in supporting someone's evil," Gordon said, adding that he felt it was important to pick witnesses from different vantage points who would be able to withstand scrutiny from the prosecution.
Taylor has pleaded not guilty and "has never wavered on his stance," Gordon said.
However, in March, Taylor signed a written confession, stating that he and Bullock were racing at the time of the accident.
The confession was drafted by police and signed by Taylor. Gordon contends his client was coerced and was told his signature was only verification that he read the document, not that he adopted the statement as his own.
Taylor's mother and two aunts work in law enforcement, and Taylor was "reared to respect authority," so he did not contend police orders, Gordon said.
"He was in an emotionally distraught situation and wasn't in any condition to be signing anything," Gordon said.
As of now, Taylor will not be testifying at his upcoming March 25 motions hearing or during his trial.
A motions hearing for Bullock will be held April 21, followed by a July 20 court date, Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the Prince George's County's State's Attorney's Office said Tuesday.
Bullock's attorney, John Michael McKenna of Greenbelt, did not return calls by press time.