Victims take stand
WARREN – Even though a defense attorney continued to question how a mother and son could positively identify the gunman who kidnapped them, the two victims were confident in their testimony that it was an armed Taylor Ervin-Williams who barged into their home.
”He had that red bandanna and the black hoodie. Everything was dark. I gave him $40 from my wallet. Then he threatened us. He told us, ‘You better have more money and it better be a lot more or somebody’s going to die tonight,”’ Reiko Williamson told jurors.
Williamson told a jury Tuesday she was watching a movie with her son, Bryce Humphrey, when a gunman sneaked through a back window. He ordered the 20-year-old Humphrey to lie facedown on the floor.
”I told him my money is in the bank and he said, ‘Let’s go,’ ” Williamson testified, describing how the intruder sat in the back seat of her tan Buick Century and, waving a gun pointed at the backs of their heads, ordered Williamson to drive to the Seven Seventeen Credit Union ATM in the parking lot of the Hot Dog Shoppe on Feb. 22.
Ervin-Williamson’s attorney, Gil Rucker, has insisted that since the gunman was wearing a bandanna around his mouth and nose, no one could positively identify him.
But Williamson and Humphrey said there was no mistaking the two tattooed teardrops under the defendant’s right eye.
Ervin-Williams, 21, could face more than 25 years behind bars if convicted on charges of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and two counts of kidnapping – all with a three-year mandatory firearm specification. He also was indicted on charges of tampering with evidence, failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer and having weapons while under disability, since indictments point out that he was previously convicted of a burglary in 2011.
If convicted, the maximum sentences stacked consecutively would total nearly 60 years.
The four men and eight women on the jury in Judge Ronald Rice’s courtroom heard testimony from BreeAnn Humphrey, another family member, who explained how she had mentioned her mother was about to receive her income tax refund to a young woman who was living with Ervin-Williamson on Belmont Street N.W.
It’s at that apartment house on Belmont where Patrolman Dave Weber and other officers tracked down Ervin-Williamson after police said he stole the victim’s car and, at first, headed back to the scene of the break-in on Charles Street S.E.
Patrolman Tim Ladner testified how he shined his spotlight on the Buick and got a clear view of Ervin-Williams behind the wheel.
Then Weber explained about the high-speed chase from Charles through downtown Warren onto Elm Road N.E., where the loaded pistol used in the crime was tossed out of the driver’s side door.
The dashboard video in Weber’s cruiser captured the complete chase, ending when the getaway car was driven into a vacant lot on Prospect Street N.W., where the driver bailed out. Weber gave chase and leaped over a six-foot-high fence, following the suspect to the Belmont neighborhood where residents signaled him, telling him of the man who ran into the apartment house.
Weber coordinated a perimeter around the house that was eventually searched after a woman there – the same woman that BreeAnn Humphrey discussed the tax refund with – tried to convince police no one was in the house.
Ervin-Williams was eventually rousted up after pretending he was asleep, Weber said, and was identified in person by Bryce Humphrey, who said he clearly recognized the voice.
Williamson also identified the suspect through the clothing found in the room where he was pretending to sleep.
A key prosecution witness in the form of a state forensic expert is scheduled to testify early today about linking Ervin-Williams to the discarded pistol through DNA tests. Becker will rest his case early.
It’s unclear whether Rucker plans to put on any defense in the case that could go to the jury for deliberations late Wednesday or sometime Thursday.