GALLIPOLIS — A Point Pleasant man accused in the June murder of Zane T. Taylor was recently charged in the Court of Common Pleas of Gallia County after being recently indicted by a grand jury on charges of murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy.
James C. Garrett, 21, Annista Drive, Point Pleasant, W.Va., pleaded not guilty to one count of murder, a special category felony; one count of aggravated robbery, a first degree felony; and one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.
Garrett was taken into custody without incident after he turned himself in to the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office on June 12, a day after the alleged incident that resulted in the death of Taylor, and is being charged along with co-defendants Lacey S. Redmond, 26, Portsmouth Road, Gallipolis; Steven L. Williams, 31, 381 Buck Ridge Road, Bidwell; and Eugene O. Wasonga, 25, Sunset Lane, Point Pleasant.
Redmond, Williams and Wasonga are also facing charges of aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, as well as complicity to murder. Garrett is the only suspect facing a murder charge.
The suspects were identified in this case following an investigation by deputies with the sheriff’s office and agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI).
At approximately 2 p.m. on the day of the incident — Monday, June 11 — deputies responded to the victim’s residence at 1841 Ohio 218 after Taylor was found deceased in his home and, according to testimony given during a preliminary hearing in this matter, later that evening, deputies were dispatched to Holzer Medical Center where further information about the alleged suspects was gleaned from Lacey Redmond.
Reportedly, Redmond was being treated at Holzer Medical Center on the night of the incident for an alleged rape. She reported to deputies that she had been at the Taylor residence that day to purchase drugs, and, while there, three black males entered the residence, committed a robbery and later raped her several times against her will.
After being interviewed by a BCI agent, Redmond was identified as a suspect in this case and interviewers discovered that Redmond had traveled to the Taylor residence with her alleged co-connspirators with a plan to rob Taylor.
Investigators further reported that, according to suspect interviews, the plan was for Redmond to make initial contact with Taylor, as he knew her from previous encounters and would allow her into the residence, then the other three suspects were to enter the residence and look for money or items of value throughout the house. Garret was to hold the victim to prevent him from getting involved in the robbery — a choke hold that allegedly caused Taylor’s death.
Following the robbery, the suspects reportedly exited the residence, loaded their vehicle with stolen items and later disposed of the unwanted property off the side of the roadway along Raccoon Creek Road, where it was later discovered by investigators.
Redmond was taken into custody on June 12 at the sheriff’s office, Williams was arrested at the Gallia Metropolitan Estates in Bidwell and Wasonga was later located and taken into custody with the help of the West Virginia State Police.
Preliminary autopsy results indicate the discovery of a hemorrhage in the musculature of the victim’s neck — the result of a blunt force injury — as well as contusions on the head in the eye and ear area.
During the preliminary hearing, Gallia County Coroner Dr. Daniel Whiteley reported that he could not report with any degree of medical certainty what caused the hemorrhage and contusions on Taylor’s body, but injuries to the neck could be consistent with those that could have resulted from having one’s neck held from behind.
Garrett’s bond was set at $1 million, 10 percent secured. He is being held in the Gallia County Jail. A jury trial in this case has been set for September 4. A negotiated plea may be filed by August 17. The defendant is being represented by public defender Richard Hedges.
Redmond, Williams and Wasonga also remain in custody under $1 million bonds awaiting arraignment hearings in the common pleas court.