Jury acquits defendant of double shooting
An Oklahoma City man was acquitted in a double shooting trial last week.
A jury found Gerald L. Taylor, 27, not guilty of first-degree murder, shooting with intent to kill and felon in possession of a firearm. The jury sat for a four-day trial, ending Thursday, in which Taylor was accused of killing Tristan Brown, 29, and injuring Devon Hines, 24, in a shooting Feb. 27, 2017.
The shooting occurred in the front yard of Brown’s mother’s house in northwest Oklahoma City. Brown was shot in the back of the head and died at the scene. Hines survived shots into his back and identified Taylor as the person who pulled the trigger.
Defense attorney Jim Berry argued Hines never saw the attacker’s face while he was being shot in the back. Berry said Hines changed his story to police, making him an unreliable witness.
Hines originally told paramedics, doctors and police officers he didn’t know who shot him. He didn’t name Taylor as the shooter until later, after he had been discharged from the hospital and jailed in a separate case.
“I would hate to have my life in the balance on what Devon Hines says,” Berry said to the jury. “Once a liar, he’s always a liar. Everything he says becomes immediately suspect.”
Hines later told investigators he knew Taylor was the shooter because he had seen the defendant behind him before shots rang out.
Assistant District Attorney Lori McConnell said gang activity gave Hines a reason to hide the identity of the shooter initially. Once he was released from the hospital, Hines intended to pursue “street justice” while he and Taylor were both locked up in the Oklahoma County jail, she said.
When gang members in the jail didn’t retaliate against Taylor, Hines decided to name him to police in hopes of seeing him criminally charged in the shooting, McConnell said. Prosecutors argued the location of shell casings at the scene supported his account of events.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Foster said cellphone tower records placed a phone associated with Taylor in the area of the shooting.
“You should believe Devon Hines because his testimony is corroborated,” Foster said. “This murder was committed by Gerald Taylor, a so-called friend who caught Tristan Brown and Devon Hines unsuspecting.”
Berry described Hines as a witness willing to say “whatever it takes to get him out of trouble.”
“They want you to put (Taylor) in the penitentiary based on a lie,” he told the jury.