MT. VERNON — Judge David Overstreet has granted a motion to suppress statements given by a murder suspect.
Overstreet said Mark Taylor, now 21, did not have the ability to knowingly understand his Miranda rights during questioning by two Mt. Vernon Police Department detectives on May 31, 2011.
Taylor was being questioned in connection with the shooting death earlier that day of 75-year-old Charles Ellis, a local cab driver.
Taylor and three other men have been charged with first-degree murder in the alleged homicide.
Overstreet pointed out the conduct of MVPD detectives — Jeremy Reichert and Travis Trotter — was “exemplary” and the treatment of the defendant was not oppressive. Trotter is no longer with the department.
Overstreet said the hearing was not a question about Taylor's fitness. A previous hearing determined Taylor is fit to stand trial.
However, in ruling in favor of the motion to suppress, Overstreet said he took into consideration testimony rendered by clinical psychologist Dr. Frank Kosmicki, who said in court Friday that Taylor has been diagnosed with “mild retardation” and is “functionally illiterate.”
Overstreet rejected the argument that Taylor suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of witnessing the death of one of his parents.
“I have to accept what Mark Taylor is,” Overstreet said. “Based on his IQ and based on the fact he says okay (at the end of the interview), he did not have the ability to knowingly understand his Miranda rights.”
Dr. Kosmicki had testified earlier Taylor had an IQ of 62, which the physician described in the “low to moderate” range.
Overstreet said the trial date of June 24 will remain on course, along with pre-trial hearing dates.
Co-defendant Christopher Wells previously entered an open plea to the crime and is awaiting sentencing. The cases of the remaining co-defendants, 20-year-old Damondros Q. James and 21-year-old Demandre D. Black, are pending.