Defendant Claims He Was Not Driver in Chase

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by Antoinnette Borbon

Testimony continued today with the audiotaped interview of an accused Oregon man.

It is the defendant’s contention he is not the person responsible for driving the vehicle that led authorities on a dangerous high-speed chase.

The prosecution alleges that, on April 24, 2013, Elijah Taylor of Oregon stole a vehicle and left the state under the influence of drugs. Taylor allegedly kept driving, into California, after an attempt to pull him over by CHP. He continued to drive at high speeds nearing 95 mph for several miles, ultimately crashing the vehicle in Woodland.

It was a road trip the defendant and his friend decided to take, the defense stated in their opening. “There is no dispute it was reckless.”

Videotape of the pursuit was shown to jurors.

Taylor, 21, allegedly crashed the truck into the yard of a residence on Palomar Court after the 40-mile chase. He was seen fleeing the scene by a neighbor shortly after allegedly the crashing the vehicle.

Authorities located Mr. Taylor hiding in a shed in the backyard of a nearby residence.

California Highway Patrol Officer Simpson took Taylor down to the station where he recorded his statements.

While he was there, Simpson also administered tests to find out the cause of Taylor’s behavior.

In the audiotaped interview jurors listened to, Taylor was asked several times by Simpson to repeat what he told him as Simpson opened the door of the shed. But the only answer Taylor had was, “I said Ouch…(laughing) the dog bit me, it hurt.”

Taylor went on to describe that he had been hitchhiking and was picked up. He said the driver was a black man with a Jheri curl but that was all he could remember.

He told Simpson that he fell asleep and woke up when the man crashed the truck.

Taylor, who appeared to be laughing in between statements, repeatedly told Officer Simpson, “I don’t f—know what you want me to say, dude, I told you, I ran because the truck was f— stolen, that’s all I remember, don’t put words in my mouth.”

In the lengthy interview, Taylor never admitted to driving the truck. At one point he was crying as Simpson continued with the same question.

Simpson testified to Taylor’s erratic behavior during the interview.

Taylor admitted to taking a couple different pills. He told Simpson that he took a Soma pill (prescribed medication for muscle pain) and an Ecstasy pill (MDMA, or “Molly”). At one point in the interview, Taylor said, “I’m faded man, can’t you see it in my face?”

Deputy Public Defender Dan Hutchinson asked Simpson what he thought being “faded” meant. Simpson said that he always heard it related to a person under the influence of alcohol.

“You never heard a person relate it to pot? Being faded from smoking marijuana?” asked the defense. “No, never, ” replied Simpson.

CSI TECH TESTIFIES

Lauren Hatfield from the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department CSI team testified to the results of fingerprint analysis taken from the stolen truck.

Hatfield explained that she was given the prints by Sheriff’s Detective Jennifer Davis but did not agree with her assumptions of which fingers the prints stemmed from. After testing the prints, Hatfield noted that a couple of the prints, thought to be from an index finger by Det. Davis, were actually from the right “pinky” finger and upper palm.

She described the parts of the fingers for jurors and how she does her analysis. She said she uses a comparison photo of fingerprints put side by side to prints collected at a crime scene. She compares all of the identifying lines and if they match identically, she can make a determination of the prints.

Hatfield has been working in the crime scene division for four years and has tested several sets of prints for trials.

She testified that she found prints on the upper side of the driver’s side door to be that of Taylor’s. But she also found prints on the outside of the passenger door to be his, as well.

A couple of unidentifiable prints were noted too, she stated.

Mr. Hutchinson asked if she tested the two coffee cups, and she replied, “No.” She said she was only instructed to test the prints found on the vehicle.

The prosecution concluded their case-in-chief.

DEFENSE BEGINS

Aaron Bohrer, Chief Investigator for the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office, took the stand today for the defense’s case.

Mr. Hutchinson asked him to describe a video he took driving south on West Street to the onramp of Interstate 5. Bohrer said he took a picture of the distance on the odometer to be .6 miles from the starting point of Kentucky Ave.

Hutchinson asked Investigator Bohrer if he had obtained property of the defendant’s from the jail. He replied, “Yes, I did.”

“Did you find any cash? coins, credit cards?” inquired the defense. “I did not, except for a Peruvian bill.”

Bohrer was asked about taking the statement of Mr. Olivera, the neighbor who witnessed a man fleeing from the crashed truck.

He said Olivera told him he heard the crash and, about a minute later, he saw a man running away.

The defense has one more witness scheduled to testify in the morning. Closing arguments will begin and the case is expected to be handed over to jurors by the afternoon.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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10 thoughts on “Defendant Claims He Was Not Driver in Chase”

  1. PhilColeman

    This “story” was successfully ignored by me twice. Now, here it is again, continuing the apparently compelling and artistic defense of the joyrider who just happened to be picked up as a hitchhiker in Oregon, and ended up hiding in a shed in another state 5 hours later. The alleged culprit has no idea what was going on during a prolonged police chase while traveling up to 95 miles an hour, high-speed turning and braking during the process, and sirens blaring. You see, the defendant was a sleeping passenger all during this time. Somehow the defendant did know the car was stolen.

    Right.

    Please tell me, somebody, why this tale is worthy of telling and re-telling? For generations defense attorneys have had in their arsenal the last desperate defense tactic known as, “TODDI.” As a court observer, surely Ms. Borbon has heard this before, but maybe not. If not, look it up and see if just possibly it might apply in this case.

    The Yolo County Prosecutor has been reamed numerous times for “allegedly” taking cases to court that were not worthy of the time and cost. Is it possible the vaunted admirable body of defense attorneys in this realm might occasionally do the same thing?

     

  2. Tia Will

    Ok, I am bracing myself on the push back on this one, because I do not believe that it pertains to the current case and want to make that clear at the beginning.

    However, I cannot help but note that considering the weight given to eye witness identification by juries, and the high rate of misidentification due to faulty memory and faulty police technique in identification questioning, the TODDI defense may the truth more often than we would like to believe.

    So getting back to the case at hand what would be the difference in sentencing for this accused if convicted of :

    1. Stealing and driving the car recklessly himself ?

    2. Stealing the car and being the passenger during the episode of reckless driving ?

    3. Not having participated in the theft, but having awareness of the theft and being the passenger at the time of reckless driving?

    4. For hypothetical comparison, what could he be charged and convicted of if he was an innocent hitchhiker, using drugs, but having no culpability for stealing the vehicle or driving the vehicle ?

     

  3. Davis Progressive

    i think there needs to be a distinction between a legitimate – mistaken identity, they have the wrong individual versus the defense simply throwing up anything they can get to stick and a lot of stuff that they can’t.

    to answer tia’s question:

    stealing the car and driving it recklessly are two separate crimes.  if he stole the car, but didn’t drive it, he would be guilty of one crime.  in the third scenario, he might be an accessory which carries the same weight as thought he committed it.  in the fourth case, he might be under the influence but not guilty of other crimes.

  4. Tia Will

    Thanks to DP and hpierce for your responses. What I was really getting at would be what would the relative penalties be for each of these situations. I am legally naive enough not to know what would be the defense attorneys best ploy to attempt to best represent his client.

    1. hpierce

      My guess, and it is only that, would have been to plead guilty to most of the charges, and ask for mercy from the court.  And asking for mandatory drug rehab in lieu of prison/jail.  But that is ONLY a guess.

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