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.
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.