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Published: Friday, 6/24/2011

Defendant passed gun to suspect in killing, jury told

Deliberations set in Taylor trial


All the witnesses agreed that Mark Ward had a heated quarrel with Terrance Taylor and his brother, John Winfield, about who paid for the cognac being passed around the Bell Street home where Mr. Ward was murdered.

But two of the seven people who were partying with the victim in the house saw Mr. Taylor pass the handgun to Winfield that was used to shoot Mr. Ward seven times, a jury was told Thursday during closing arguments at Mr. Taylor's aggravated murder trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

"The shooting began with the argument over the bottle of Hennessy," said Assistant County Prosecutor Frank Spryszak. "That was the pretext to get things going."

The jury was given instructions for the offenses of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery late Thursday and was expected to return to the courtroom of Judge Stacy Cook Friday to begin deliberations.

Mr. Taylor, 47, is charged in the Dec. 12 shooting death of Mr. Ward that occurred in the home of Dorcas Stephens, 50, the mother of his 9-year-old son.

According to trial testimony, the couple, Mr. Taylor, Winfield, and their sister, Deirdre Taylor, 42, and three others were playing cards and drinking when a quarrel began over money paid for the liquor.

Mr. Spryszak and Tim Braun, the assistant prosecutors handling the case, said Winfield shot the victim after the defendant had given him a 40-caliber handgun, making him complicit in the crime.

"When John Winfield came out of that kitchen he was flashing a gun," Mr. Spryszak said.

Deirdre Taylor, who was convicted of robbery for rifling through the victim's pockets after the shooting, testified that Winfield, her half brother, fired the gun into the victim. She said Winfield ordered her to search Mr. Ward's pockets, holding the gun to her head while she did.

Money from Mr. Ward's wallet, the coat he wore to the house, and his cognac were taken by the defendants, prosecutors said.

Winfield, 29, of Flint, Mich., is charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, with specifications that he used a gun. His trial, a death penalty case, is scheduled for March 5.

The aggravated murder and aggravated robbery charges include specifications that a gun was used in a crime. Conviction of aggravated murder carries a life sentence.

Defense Attorney Christopher Pagan asked jurors to examine the credibility of the prosecution witnesses and attacked inconsistencies in their testimony and statements to police.

"There was no evidence presented to you that Terrance Taylor engaged in a plan to kill," he said. "There was no evidence presented to you that he engaged in a plan to rob."

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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