Widow to offer video testimony at murder trial Woman was wounded during husband's attack

March 31, 1998|By Sarah Pekkanen | Sarah Pekkanen,SUN STAFF

In the event that she dies before getting a chance to testify against the man charged with killing her husband, 80-year-old Augusta Taylor of Gardenville will videotape her account of the January attack that left her unable to use the arm in which she was stabbed.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph McCurdy cleared the way for Taylor's recorded testimony after granting the defense a delay in the first-degree murder trial of John Henry Harris, a 56-year-old resident of Knell Avenue. Harris is charged in the fatal stabbing of his neighbor, 85-year-old James Taylor of nearby Todd Avenue.

Police said the attack followed an argument at the Taylor home. Harris also is charged with attempted murder in the attack on Taylor's widow.

Ronald Kurland, Harris' attorney, requested the postponement, saying that yesterday was too soon to begin a trial because Harris had been arraigned March 10. Kurland said the delay will allow Harris to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Assistant State's Attorney William McCollum Jr. called the request a "ploy," arguing that the state of Harris' mental health became an issue after the defense "couldn't get the plea [bargain] he wanted and the trial date he wanted."

Prosecutor William McCollum Jr. said he was worried that Taylor -- who appeared in court yesterday with a cast on her partially paralyzed arm -- might not live to testify.

"The effect this has had on her hasn't changed her appearance -- her hair is no grayer, her skin is no paler," McCollum said. "But every single day of her life is filled with anxiety. That anxiety has accumulated to such a degree we feel [a delay] could be detrimental to her health."

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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