Mt. Vernon Register-News

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March 27, 2014

Dates set in case

MT. VERNON — Firm pre-trial and trial dates have been established for one of the suspect’s accused of killing a Mt. Vernon cab driver nearly three years ago.

A jury pre-trial is scheduled June 3 and a jury trial is set for June 24 on behalf of Mark A. Taylor Jr., 21, of Mt. Vernon.

The Court has also set a May 2 date on a motion to suppress, and any pre-trial motions will be heard on May 13.

“The intent is for these to be firm dates,” said Jefferson County State’s Attorney Doug Hoffman.

Prosecutors were ready to proceed to trial on Taylor last September when

Taylor’s then attorney Jerry Crisel filed a successful motion for a psychiatric examination of Taylor. In late January, Dr. Angeline Stanislaus, who conducted the exam, concluded Taylor was fit to stand trial.

Crisel was then appointed as a resident judge, resulting in the appointment of Meagan Carnine as Taylor’s new counsel. Paige Clark Strawn recently joined Carnine as co-counsel.

“These cases are getting aged since the murder happened three years ago,” Hoffman said. “We have tried to get them resolved efficiently although we have met roadblocks along the way, such as changes in attorneys.”

Judge David Overstreet, during a hearing on March 18, set the new court dates for Taylor and said the new dates will allow the case to remain on track.

“We are in frequent communication with the victim’s family during the proceedings and continue to have a good relationship with them as we seek to get justice,” Hoffman said.

Taylor, 20-year-old Damondros Q. James, 21-year-old Demandre D. Black and Christopher Wells, now 18, are accused of shooting American cab driver Charles Ellis, 75, on May 31, 2011, in a south side residential area. They are charged with three counts of first-degree murder, punishable from 20 to 60 years in prison. There is a 15-year enhancement sentence if a defendant is found guilty of being in possession of a firearm.

Wells previously entered an open guilty plea and is awaiting sentencing. He is currently being held in Marion County.

Black, represented by Todd Ringel, has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for 9:30 a.m. May 14; and James, represented by West Frankfort attorney Aaron Hopkins, is scheduled for a status hearing at 9:30 a.m. April 15.

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