Soldier's carjack trial goes to jury

February 23, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

A Harford County jury will begin deliberations this morning in the trial of an Aberdeen Proving Ground soldier who tried to evade deployment overseas by stealing a car with the owner's 5-year-old son in the back seat.

Prosecutors said Brandon Lee Taylor, 19, an Oregon resident who was a private-in-training with the 143rd Ordnance Battalion, had been drinking at a Baltimore strip club July 3 when he returned to Edgewood and tried to steal a car that was idling at the Shell Mart in the 1700 block of Hanson Road.

As Taylor sped off, the owner of the vehicle, 31-year-old Thomas Maurice Head of Edgewood, jumped onto the vehicle and yelled that his son was in the back seat. The vehicle cut across traffic before crashing into a utility pole.

"Going AWOL is what he was doing," Deputy State's Attorney Diana A. Brooks told the jury yesterday in closing arguments. "He decided [that] going to the Middle East didn't look so appealing. ... Well, you go to the Aberdeen train station and take a train home. You don't carjack an innocent man and risk his life and his son's life."

Head, an electrician at Morgan State University, suffered injuries in the incident that nearly resulted in the amputation of his right leg. He testified yesterday wearing a boot on his foot and walking with a cane. He said he has a metal rod in his leg and little sensation in his foot.

Taylor, who rejected a plea bargain, is charged with first- and second-degree assault, carjacking, theft, robbery, kidnapping and reckless endangerment.

Taylor's public defender, John W. Janowich, did not dispute the account of the incident but argued against the kidnapping and assault charges. He told the jury that Taylor was not aware the child was in the back seat and that Head's injuries were sustained after Head reached into the car and jerked the steering wheel.

Prosecutors showed a surveillance video from the gas station and played an audiotape of Taylor talking to police.

On the tape, Taylor tells a detective that he stole the car because he was "going to get out of Maryland."

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