LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The man convicted of wanton murder for opening fire in a busy parking lot, sparking a wild shootout that resulted in the death of the teenage daughter of Olympic track star Tyson Gay will remain in prison.
Thursday, the state Supreme Court upheld the conviction and 20-year-sentence for 42-year-old Chazerae Me’lon Taylor on charges of wanton murder and four counts of wanton endangerment.
A Fayette County Circuit Court jury found him guilty on Oct. 16, 2018, the two-year anniversary of the death of Trinity Gay who was caught in the cross fire in the parking lots of the Cook Out and Waffle House restaurants.
Taylor was one of four people convicted of crimes in connection with the case. His were the most serious offenses.
Taylor had argued Judge Ernesto Scorsone erred when he refused to acquit Taylor of the charges on two different occasions at the end of the trial. Taylor’s motion suggested the evidence din’t show his actions sparked the hail of gunfire that left the teen dead.
A bullet from his gun is not the one that killed Trinity Gay, according to court records and trial testimony.
In its analysis, the state Supreme Court rejected that argument ( supreme court chezerae taylor ruling 2019-SC-0066-MR ), saying, “…A reasonable jury could have concluded that Taylor had reason to know that a shoot-out was rendered substantially more probable by his firing the initial, and multiple, shots into the air amid a late-night crowd gathered in a parking lot to socialize. Evidence showed that Taylor went to the Cook Out looking for a fight: he armed himself with a handgun in preparation for confronting the man who had robbed his son earlier that day. Taylor was aware that the perpetrator had also taken a gun from another young man. Taylor entered a crowd of people, armed and on a mission, and fired gunshots into the air with the intent to disperse the crowd so that he could locate his target. Indeed, by his own admission, Taylor began firing gunshots into the air to clear the crowd: he knew the crowd would panic and disperse, and he counted on it. Forensic evidence showed that multiple people returned fire, a testament to the likelihood that a dangerous reaction to Taylor’s provocation might occur,” the court wrote in its 11-page opinion.
“When bullets start flying in a crowd of people, no one should be surprised when someone gets shot.
“Based on the evidence presented, the Commonwealth met its burden of persuasion and therefore the trial court did not err by denying Taylor’s motions for a directed verdict of acquittal on the wanton murder and wanton endangerment charges,” the court concluded.
During the trial evidence showed Taylor went to the Cook Out parking lot next to the Waffle House, both of which were popular late-night gathering spots for young people, looking for the people who had robbed his son, D’Markeo Taylor, earlier in the evening.
To disperse the crowd to better be able to find the people he wanted, he fired warning shots, sparking chaos. Several others returned fire, catching Trinity Gay, who was 15, in the barrage of bullets.
She was struck in the neck and died.
Lamonte Williams, 24, D’Vonta Middlebrooks, 25, and Taylor’s son, who is now 23, all also were convicted for roles in the incident.