He is charged with murder but he did not fire the shot that killed the 15-year-old daughter of Lexington Olympian Tyson Gay.
In fact, prosecutors were unable to identify the gun that killed Trinity Gay or the person who fired it.
The commonwealth rested Thursday in a Fayette County murder trial but presented no evidence that ties a gun in Chazerae “Chaz” Taylor’s hands to the bullet that struck Trinity in the lower neck. The prosecution argues Taylor is guilty of wanton murder because the weapon he fired started a chain reaction of shooting that resulted in Trinity’s wounding and death.
Meanwhile, anticipating that the case could go to the jury on Monday, Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone told jurors to be prepared for a long day.
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Defense attorneys confirmed later that they had asked the judge for a directed verdict, which essentially asks for the cases against their clients to be dismissed because of insufficient evidence. A directed verdict is routinely sought by the defense after the prosecution finishes presenting its case.
The judge will rule Monday on the request, the attorneys said.
Trinity, a track star at Lafayette High School, died on Oct. 16, 2016, after being shot during an exchange of gunfire at Cook Out restaurant on South Broadway in Lexington.
In addition to murder, Chazerae Taylor Sr., 40, is charged with wanton endangerment. His son, D’Markeo “Keo” Taylor, 21, Lamonte Williams, 22, and D’Vonta Middlebrooks, 23, are also charged with wanton endangerment and on trial with the elder Taylor. Middlebrooks is also charged with being a felon in possession of a handgun.
D’Markeo Taylor and a friend, Raekwon Berry, had been robbed of a gun late on Oct. 15 at Cook Out. Shortly before 4 a.m. the next day, Oct. 16, Chaz Taylor, D’Markeo Taylor and Williams went to Cook Out to get the gun back.
Witnesses said Chaz Taylor was the first person to fire a gun at the scene, the alleged act that prompted the murder charge. Kentucky law allows for a conviction of murder as a wanton act. That is defined as “manifesting extreme indifference to human life” by engaging in conduct that “creates a grave risk of death to another person.”
The wanton endangerment charges allege the men risked danger of death or injury to those gathered at the restaurant during the exchange of gunfire.
The final prosecution witnesses testified Thursday about bullets and shell casings found at the scene and about autopsy results. Police recovered shell casings from four .380-caliber guns, several shell casings fired from a .45-caliber gun, plus a .38-caliber bullet found in the speaker box of a car trunk. Not all of the guns have been recovered.
Dr. William Ralston, Kentucky’s chief medical examiner, said Trinity was shot once. A bullet entered her body from the front, shattered a collarbone and a rib, then exited out the back.
Trinity died of trauma to a lung, Ralston said.
Previous testimony said Trinity’s DNA was found on a .45 caliber bullet recovered from the scene, but police did not find a gun of that caliber. There was no testimony as to who fired a .45-caliber firearm.
Two .45-caliber bullets were recovered from the Cook Out property, but they were so damaged that they probably could not be matched to a gun, said Lawrence Pilcher, a firearms expert with state police.
Police recovered 20 shell casings from the scene, but evidence technician Tim Russell said it is difficult, if not impossible, to get fingerprints that could identify a suspect from a spent shell casing. That’s because the heat from the bullet being fired eliminates any print.
Kentucky State Police forensic scientist Megan Dillery Duff testified that she has never gotten a reliable DNA profile from spent shell casings. And Duff said she was not aware of a usable DNA profile from the testing done on other shell casings during her time with the state police lab.
The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Monday in Fayette Circuit Court.