Jury finds man guilty of first-degree murder in brutal stabbing death
By JIm Newton firstname.lastname@example.org @JimNewton5 November 1, 2013 8:50PM
Derrick C. Taylor
Updated: December 5, 2013 6:16AM
It took a jury less than three hours Friday night to find Beach Park resident Derrick Taylor guilty of first-degree murder in the brutal beating and slashing death of Joy Lee, a 48-year-old mother of two from Bristol, Wis.
Lee was murdered on the evening of March 11, 2012, on a street in the Trumpet Industrial Park in Zion.
Taylor, 40, was convicted on all three counts of first-degree murder lodged against him — that he meant to kill or cause great bodily harm to Lee, that he knew his actions could cause her death and that he knew his actions could result in great bodily harm or death.
Assistant State’s Attorney Reginald Mathews, who prosecuted the case along with Assistant State’s Attorney John Brown, said after the verdict that he felt there were no winners or losers Friday night, but “it was good for the family to get closure” and he was happy with the jury’s findings.
“It was definitely a difficult trial,” he said.
Taylor faces a range of of 20 to 60 years in prison at his pending sentencing.
Following a surprise admission Friday afternoon by Taylor that he had been at the Zion murder scene the night Lee was killed, closing arguments were held and the case was sent to the jury for deliberations.
The 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.
But first, Mathews, Brown, and defense attorney Louis Pissios had their final say in front of the jury to conclude the trial.
Strangely, allusions to the Brady Bunch sitcom popped up at the beginning and end of the trial.
Pissios made the comment to the jury that “this isn’t the Brady Bunch,” referring to allegations that the lifestyles of both Taylor and Lee included illegal drug sales and sex for profit connections. He would repeat it in closing statements as well.
But 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.”
Mathews said Lee was in an abusive relationship with Taylor, and that she provided him with prescription medicine to sell to a third party for profit. She also provided him with sex, and he set her up with prostitution work in North Chicago, according to texts obtained by the prosecution from the phones of Taylor and Lee.
He 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 Trumpet Drive 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 testified that he had gone to meet Lee at Trumpet Park the night of March 11, a fact he had adamantly denied until Friday, and that he came across her murdered body, got blood on his hands from touching her, and then, scared, drove home 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, and acted surprised when he was told she was dead. He said that he was scared they had already decided he was a the murderer, an assumption Pissios said was correct.
“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 also said there was no reason for Taylor to Kill Lee when he was making a profit from her pills and receiving sex from her. He also said there was no physical evidence such as a murder weapon or bloody clothes pointing to Taylor.
Mathews said the evidence was overwhelming.
Mathews said Lee wanted Taylor’s love, “and he exacted his love on her on a lonely stretch of highway.
Earlier Friday, a pathologist called in to perform an autopsy and determine the cause of Lee’s death, said she died from “multiple sharp-force injuries to the neck.
“This is the area that killed Miss Lee,” Dr. Manuel Montez said. “She bled to death, and also probably drowned in her own blood if she lived that long.”
While Lee died quickly after the mortal slashing of her throat, she suffered numerous other injuries prior to the fatal wounds, Montez said.
Those injuries included 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.
Most serious of the wounds that didn’t directly cause her death, Montez said, were 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.