A Columbus man who shot a Butler County man in a Fayette County church parking lot Nov. 28 was found guilty Thursday on all counts.
All evidence was presented Wednesday during Brandon J. Taylor’s trial in Fayette County Common Pleas Court, and the closing arguments were made Thursday morning. After deliberating for almost three hours, the jury trial returned guilty verdicts on charges of first-degree felony aggravated robbery, two counts of second-degree felony felonious assault, third-degree felony tampering with evidence, and fourth-degree misdemeanor discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises.
Taylor, 28, was also found guilty on a firearm specification to the aggravated robbery charge. This specification brings with it a three-year mandatory prison sentence.
According to Fayette County Assistant Prosecutor Sean Abbott, who prosecuted the Taylor case, the state will likely seek around a 10-year prison sentence. Taylor, who is scheduled to be sentenced by Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Beathard on Monday morning, is facing a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.
On the evening of Nov. 28 in the Center Christian Church parking lot, located on Garringer-Edgefield Road in northwest Fayette County, a witness in the area reported observing two vehicles in the lot and at least two individuals outside the vehicles involved in a physical altercation.
A short time later, the caller reported hearing what was believed to be a gunshot. Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jordan Lovely found an incoherent man, later identified as Lee E. Watkins, 25, inside of a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound. The other vehicle departed the scene by the time deputies arrived, according to Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.
Lovely requested response from EMS and a medical helicopter while administering first aid to Watkins, who was shortly thereafter flown to the trauma center for treatment. Watkins survived the shooting.
Taylor was arrested in December after charges were filed against him. According to testimony during the trial, the shooting occurred due to a drug deal that went awry.
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation & Identification (BCI&I) conducted the investigation.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica