Crime

From marijuana to murder: 2nd man convicted in shooting death of Riverside High grad

JeJuan Taylor, a Riverside High graduate and Duke University employee, was fatally shot on April 18, 2013.  Four people were charged in his death, and the first related trial started this month.
JeJuan Taylor, a Riverside High graduate and Duke University employee, was fatally shot on April 18, 2013. Four people were charged in his death, and the first related trial started this month.

For Nakecha Taylor, it wasn’t any easier to sit through the second murder trial in the killing of her 19-year-old son.

It was harder, Taylor said, because this time the accused shooter was on trial.

“He took away my son from me,” she said, “destroying all my dreams for my son.”

A jury of six men and six women on Tuesday found Timothy Leon Moore, 25, guilty of first-degree murder and other crimes related to the fatal shooting of JeJuan Taylor in Durham.

Prosecutors have argued that Taylor’s death on April 18, 2013, stemmed from a drug-deal-turned-robbery planned by four people, one of them a student at N.C. Central University.

The first trial in the case took place in April, when a jury found Thomas Clayton guilty of first-degree murder and other charges. Prosecutors say Clayton, 26, drove the getaway car, obtained the gun used in the shooting and helped orchestrate the robbery.

He was sentenced to life in prison.

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Moore wasn’t charged with murder in the case until June 2016. It took that long for police to connect him to a palm print that was left on Taylor’s car.

Two months before he was charged with Taylor’s death, Moore was charged with killing a store clerk, a father of six, at a convenience mart on Broad Street. Another clerk was shot in the robbery. That case is still pending.

Fatal drug deal

Police say Taylor was driving with two friends that evening when he stopped at Duke Manor apartments to sell marijuana to Hope Farley -- but it was a setup.

Farley, now 24, has said the initial plan didn’t include hurting Taylor. The group had planned to arrange the drug deal and then rob Taylor when he arrived.

But Moore ran up to the car and stuck a gun through the window, according to Farley. Moore’s arm appeared to get stuck in the window, and he started shooting, Farley testified.

After the shooting, Farley and Rakeem Best ran to Clayton’s SUV, leaving Moore behind, Farley said.

“It wasn’t supposed to go down this way,” said Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried in closing arguments for Moore’s trial. “The defendant made it go down this way.”

As part of a plea deal, Farley, now 24, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to a maximum prison term of 13.5 years.

‘Innocent explanation’

In closing arguments, Moore’s attorney, Hannah Autry, argued that her client wasn’t at Duke Manor that day.

“That palm print has an innocent explanation,” Autry said.

Moore had bought marijuana from Taylor in an exchange before the shooting, according to Autry, who pointed to a police interview with Daron Jones, a friend of Taylor’s who was in the backseat of the car the night of the shooting.

Jones said he didn’t see the shooter’s face, but he saw an arm and a gloved hand holding a gun.

Moore couldn’t have left that palm print during the shooting, Autry said, because Jones said the shooter had on glove.

The case against Moore, Autry said during closing arguments Monday, is built on “an innocent palm print, a shoddy investigation” and Farley “trying to save her own skin.”

After the verdict and sentencing, Moore made a short statement.

“I love you, Ma,” he said. “We are going to be all right.”

Nakecha Taylor said she found some relief in the jury’s decision, and also the life sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Jim Hardin. Hardin added up to seven-and-a-half years to the sentence for other crimes associated with the murder.

“He is no longer on the streets,” Nakecha Taylor said of Moore.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges
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