New trial date set for man accused of murder

James Taylor. Source: RPD
James Taylor. Source: RPD

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - New information in the case of an Ashland man hit and killed by a stray bullet near VCU last summer. A judge has now scheduled a new trial for accused killer, James Taylor. The 18-year-old will return to court April 13.

Less than a month ago, a Richmond judge declared a mistrial after jurors deadlocked. The mistrial put any hope of closure for the people on both sides of this case on hold. NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin says the retrial brings both challenges and opportunities.

"A second trial often gives us a better chance to get a truth of what happened," he said.

Benjamin explains both sides may rethink strategy, but they'll be able to use what they learned in the first trial. The defense will have to find a way to capitalize on the lack of certain evidence at the crime scene, where Billy Ennis was killed by a stray bullet doing what thousands do every day -- simply driving down Belvidere Street.

It came out at trial, detectives could never find any eyewitnesses who saw exactly what happened that night. And while they examined four bullet casings from the same gun, they couldn't find the weapon used to fire the fatal shot. But what Taylor says when he takes the stand this time around won't be a surprise for the Commonwealth's Attorney.

"They'll have the opportunity to review his testimony and to better confront the defendant," said Benjamin. "What we'll expect are some very probing questions from the prosecution."

Twice the jury came back in the first trial and said it couldn't reach a unanimous decision. After about six hours, the judge accepted that deadlock. No one wants that outcome again.

"What this case is going to come down to is who the jury believes," said Benjamin.

The judge has scheduled a two day trial. Jury selection is set to begin April 13. James Taylor remains behind bars.

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