By Jordan Lee
After extending the jury trial one day in order for the jurors to complete their deliberation, the jury was only able to find Elijah Taylor guilty of three out of six charges. The jury hung on Counts 1, 2 and 3, with doubt by a few jurors as to whether Taylor was or was not driving the stolen Chevy Silverado before it was abandoned in Woodland, California, on April 24, 2014.
The defendant was charged with six criminal felonies in April, after he apparently stole a truck in Prospect, Oregon, and went for a joyride to California. A California Highway Patrol Officer attempted to stop the truck for speeding, but was forced to engage in a 40-mile high-speed pursuit on Interstate 5.
During the high-speed chase, Mr. Taylor is reported to have swerved from the second lane of the highway in an attempt to crash into the vehicle of CHP Officer Eduardo Garcia who had responded to the scene. Missing Officer Garcia’s patrol car by a mere several feet, Mr. Taylor allegedly sped off and the chase continued.
Exiting onto a country road near Woodland, California, Mr. Taylor allegedly drove into oncoming traffic, forcing five civilian vehicles off the road. Pursuing peace officers gave up the chase, deeming it too dangerous to continue.
Peace officers later found the abandoned Chevy Silverado crashed into a flowerbed in the front yard of a Woodland residence.
Mr. Taylor was found hiding in a shed in a neighbor’s yard in the cul-de-sac. He was ultimately brought down by a police dog and arrested. He tested positive for methamphetamines and marijuana.
Elijah Sterling Taylor pled not guilty to the six charges against him.
Count 1 was assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer. In this case, the stolen truck was the deadly weapon. Since the jury could not conclude that Taylor was indeed the driver when the truck engaged in a high-speed pursuit, they hung on this count.
Count 2 was assault with a deadly weapon, again, the truck. Similarly, the jury hung on this count because they could not decide whether Taylor was the driver.
Count 3 was a vehicle code violation of evading a police officer, driving in the opposite direction of traffic. The jury hung on this charge for the same reason.
Therefore, due to the inability of the jurors to render a guilty verdict for counts 1, 2, and 3, the judge declared those counts to be mistrials. The judge ordered the court to reconvene in two weeks to determine if a retrial motion will be forthcoming.
By Jordan Lee
Today, a 26-year-old man faced charges of drug possession, first degree burglary, and violation of probation. His attorney argued that the man’s new-found Christian faith should warrant little if no prison time. Furthermore, his attorney presented that protein supplements, used for exercise and muscle gains, may have been the cause for a positive toxicology test for methamphetamines at the time of his arrest.
Morgan Wivell was currently serving a four-year probation sentence for a DUI charge. He pled no contest to the current charges against him, but begged for a lesser prison sentence.
Mr. Wivell testified to being the ideal person serving a probation term. He volunteers tirelessly for his church: attending retreats, leading focus groups for problematic children, and helping the church leadership. His pastor, a former prison minister, testified to his genuine Christian conversion and continued devotion to the church. He even met his now-fiancé through the church.
However, this streak of good deeds ended when he was caught in possession of methamphetamines and 420 grams of marijuana on December 6, 2013. He also tested positive for methamphetamines in his system.
Mr. Wivell’s attorney stated that a protein supplement, commonly known as a “pre-workout supplement,” was the cause of a positive test for methamphetamines. The defense provided no evidence that any protein supplements could affect a toxicology test. Mr. Wivell testified to taking such a supplement on the day of his arrest.
During his verdict, the judge immediately struck down the idea that protein supplements affected the toxicology report. Despite Mr. Wivell’s genuine religious and character transformation, the judge also noted that Mr. Wivell has “not done a lot to impress the courts before then,” citing multiple violations of probation.
The judge denied Mr. Wivell a Romero motion, which would utilize judicial discretion to “strike” past serious felony convictions and lessen the sentence. However, due to Mr. Wivell’s good behavior in the last year, he received a less harsh sentence of 32 months of incarceration.
Mr. Wivell’s attorney attempted to delay remanding until after Thanksgiving, but that was denied. The defendant was handcuffed and taken away as his fiancé broke down into tears.