Case goes to jury after accused murderer takes stand to explain blood on his hands
By JIm Newton firstname.lastname@example.org | @JimNewton5 November 1, 2013 4:22PM
Derrick C. Taylor
Updated: December 3, 2013 6:11AM
Following a surprise admission Friday by defendant Derrick Taylor that he had been at the Zion murder scene the night Joy Lee was killed, closing arguments were made and the case was sent to the jury for deliberations.
The Lake County jury, who had heard evidence in the first-degree murder case against Taylor since Tuesday morning, received final instructions and began deliberations at 5:45 p.m.
Strangely, references to the Brady Bunch sitcom popped up at the beginning and end of the trial.
Defense attorney Louis Pissios opened the trial telling the jury that Taylor and Lee’s relationship wasn’t like the Brady Bunch, referring to allegations that they were involved in illegal drug sales and prostitution. He would repeat the reference in closing statements Friday as well.
But Assistant State’s Attorney John Brown, who had the final argument, told the jury that “this is like the Brady Bunch.”
“At the end of every episode of the Brady Bunch, there is a moral,” Brown said. “The moral here is that in Lake County, you’re not going to get away with murder.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Reginald Mathews said Lee, 48, of Bristol, Wis. was in an abusive relationship with Taylor, and that she provided him with prescription medicine to sell. She also provided him with sex, and he set her up with prostitution work in North Chicago.
Mathews said evidence shows Taylor sent text messages asking Lee to meet him the evening of March 11, 2012, and that he was upset with her and planned to punish her. Mathews said Taylor beat her “savagely” on a quiet stretch of a Zion industrial park and then used a sharp object to slash her so severely that her head was almost severed.
He was arrested the morning after the murder at his home in Beach Park.
After testimony Friday from a DNA expert who said Lee’s blood was found on the steering wheel of Taylor’s car, Pissios put Taylor on the witness stand and allowed him to tell what Pissios said was “the truth.”
Taylor, 40, of Beach Park, testified that he had gone to meet Lee at that night, a fact he had denied until Friday, and that he came across her murdered body, got blood on his hands, and drove home scared without calling the police.
Under cross examination from Mathews, he admitted to lying to police during a four-hour interrogation the day after she died. Taylor said he was scared police had already decided he was a the murderer.
“He should have told the truth, but we’d still be here (on trial),” Pissios said. “He lied but that doesn’t make him a killer.”
Pissios said there was no physical evidence such as a murder weapon.
Mathews said the evidence was overwhelming.
Earlier Friday, the jury was shown a detailed and gruesome description of the wounds suffered by Lee. Prosecutors used slides, lists and testimony from a forensic pathologist to make their case.
Lee was killed by a slash or several cuts to the neck that went so deep they severed her major arteries and windpipe, and the weapon left grooves in her spinal bones and discs, according to testimony from Dr. Manuel Montez, an expert pathologist called in to perform an autopsy and determine the cause of Lee’s death.
She died from “multiple sharp-force injuries to the neck,” Montez said as the prosecution in the case was preparing to rest its case.
“This is the area that killed Miss Lee,” Montez said. “She bled to death, and also probably drowned in her own blood if she lived that long.”
Lee also suffered numerous other injuries prior to the fatal wounds, Montez said.
Lee was killed March 11, 2012 on a street in the Trumpet Park industrial area of Zion.
Taylor was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly beating and stabbing her to death after arranging to meet her there.
According to the testimony, the injuries totaled more than 50 blunt-force trauma wounds, primarily to her head and face, and 11 other sharp object wounds, including defensive wounds to her hands and cuts to her cheek, eyebrow and chin. She also had a black eye.
Montez also detailed blunt-force trauma wounds to both sides of her head with bruises so deep they reached her skull. Montez said one of those wounds was consistent with repetitive hard contact against asphalt or pavement.
Jurors saw photos of those injuries, as well as the blood-soaked sweatshirt Lee was wearing, which also showed slash marks from a sharp object.
Prior to Montez’s testimony, Kelly Lawrence with the Northeastern Illinois Crime Lab testified that DNA testing of blood found on the steering wheel of one of Taylor’s cars and in the sink of his Beach Park home belonged to Lee. She said another unidentified DNA sample was found on the steering wheel and excluded Taylor as being the source.
Defense attorney Louis Pissios was scheduled to present his case Friday afternoon prior to closing arguments later in the evening. The case was expected to go to the jury for deliberations Friday night.