Mt. Vernon Register-News

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June 4, 2014

Judge denies release motion

MT. VERNON — Judge David Overstreet denied a defense motion Tuesday to release murder suspect Mark A. Taylor from jail while the Appellate Court makes a ruling on a state’s motion.

Taylor’s co-counsel, Paige Clark Strawn and Megan Carnine, filed the motion last week, with the state filing a response Tuesday morning.

On May 6, Overstreet ruled that Taylor’s statement made to police on the evening of May 31, 2011, could not be used during trial.

Taylor and three other men are accused of shooting 75-year-old Charles Ellis, a local cab driver.

Shortly after the judge’s ruling, the State filed a motion, asking the Fifth

District Court of Appeals to overturn Overstreet’s ruling.

Supreme Court Rule 604-A gives the State the right to appeal a suppression issue, but it also provides for the defendant to be released while an appeal is pending unless the state can cite compelling reasons to hold onto him, according to information furnished during the hearing.

Overstreet said in court Tuesday he was surprised by the State’s appeal, given he was familiar with the case involving a co-defendant, and knowing that defendant has agreed to testify against Taylor during trial.

A previous hearing determined Taylor is fit to stand trial. However, in making his ruling in May, the judge said the defendant did not have the ability to knowingly understand his Miranda rights during questioning by police.

In arguing the compelling issue, State’s Attorney Doug Hoffman said the defendant is a flight risk, he has committed a serious crime and he has a past criminal history. Hoffman also said a conviction is likely, even without the suppressed statement.

“We believe keeping the defendant in our custody is the best outcome in this case,” Hoffman said.

Clark-Strawn argued a conviction is unknown and there is always a risk of flight.

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