GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County Grand Jury will hear the cases against four individuals accused in last Monday’s murder of Zane T. Taylor.
Probable cause hearings in the cases against the four suspects were held before Gallipolis Municipal Court Judge Margaret Evans this week and the respective cases against James C. Garrett, 21, Annista Drive, Point Pleasant, W.Va; Lacey S. Redmond, 26, Portsmouth Road, Gallipolis; Steven L. Williams, 31, 381 Buck Ridge Road, Bidwell; and Eugene O. Wasonga, 24, Sunset Lane, Point Pleasant, have been bound over to the Court of Common Pleas of Gallia County and will be heard by a grand jury.
The suspects have been charged in the death of Taylor, 33, Gallipolis, that occurred on Monday, June 11.
Deputies with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Taylor residence at 1841 Ohio 218 at approximately 2:05 p.m. on June 11 after Taylor was found deceased in his home.
During a hearing held earlier this week in the case against Garrett, Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins presented several witnesses — officials involved in the investigation of the alleged murder and associated aggravated robbery — who testified in regard to their recent investigation into the homicide.
Garrett is the only suspect that has been charged with murder, a special category felony. Redmond, Williams and Wasonga are all facing a charge of complicity to commit murder, a lesser offense and felony of the first degree.
All four suspects have been charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and aggravated robbery, both first degree felonies.
The first to take the stand during Garrett’s preliminary hearing was Sgt. Chris Gill of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office who presented testimony in regard to his involvement in the investigation of Taylor’s death.
Gill reported he responded to the Taylor residence on the afternoon of June 11, where an ongoing investigation was taking place, and, later that evening, he was dispatched to Holzer Medical Center in regard to the alleged rape of Lacey Redmond.
Redmond reported to Gill 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.
“Ms. Redmond stated that she went there on the pretense to purchase marijuana and while she was in the residence, three black males, that rode there with her, entered the residence to commit a robbery and that later they raped her against her will,” Gill stated.
On the day of the incident, deputies contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation to aid in the investigation of the alleged murder and robbery.
Special Agent Jonathan Jenkins arrived at the hospital to meet with Redmond on June 11 and took a statement in regard to the events of that day.
Jenkins testified in regard to his initial interview with Redmond at Holzer Medical Center and a second interview held with the suspect early on June 12 at the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Jenkins, the second interview lead him to believe that Redmond was a suspect in the case and not just the victim of an alleged rape.
“At this time, the [second] interview was a little bit different,” Jenkins said. “I had learned that Lacey may have actually been a suspect in the robbery and murder of Mr. Taylor.”
Jenkins stated that Redmond had traveled to the Taylor residence with three black males, “E.J.,” “Looney,” and “James,” who were later identified through an investigation as Eugene Wasonga, Steven Williams and James Garrett.
Redmond further reportedly advised Jenkins that the four had traveled there with a plan to rob Taylor.
“She stated that, upon arrival at the Taylor residence, they parked along the side of the roadway — which would be State Route 218 — at that point in time, she exited the vehicle and walked up to the Taylor residence. She went there to purchase a marijuana cigarette which she stated was all a part of a plan that her and the three males had developed on the drive to the residence,” Jenkins said. “The plan was, since she had known Mr. Taylor from previous encounters, that he would recognize her and allow her into the residence. The plan after she entered the residence was for the other three males to enter the residence and look for money or items of value such as drugs and other things.”
Jenkins further advised the court that, during her interview, Redmond stated that it was the job of Wasonga to look through the bedroom for items and that Garrett was to hold Taylor to prevent him from getting involved in the robbery.
“Once the three males came in, “E.J.” or Eugene Wasonga was to go through the bedroom to look for items. She stated that James’ so-to-speak ‘assignment’ was to find out where Mr. Taylor was and hold him on the ground and make sure he never got involved, and she stated that’s what James did,” Jenkins said. “In fact, she stated that at one point in time she observed James on top of Mr. Taylor and had Mr. Taylor in some sort of a choke hold.”
Redmond further advised Jenkins, according to testimony, that following the robbery, the items were taken from the residence and placed in their vehicle. The suspects then exited the house and traveled in the vehicle to Raccoon Creek Road where they looked through the items they had stolen and disposed of the unwanted property off the side of the roadway.
According to Jenkins, Redmond was later able to take investigators to that location on Raccoon Creek Road where the four had stopped and officers were able to locate the item that were thrown there.
Steven Williams was also later arrested at Gallia Metropolitan Estates and he, reportedly, made statements similar to Redmond’s.
Wasonga was located with the help of the West Virginia State Police, and Garrett was later taken by his grandmother to the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office where he was taken into custody without incident.
Last to testify during Garrett’s preliminary hearing was Gallia County Coroner, Dr. Daniel Whiteley.
Whiteley reported that he was called to the Taylor residence on the afternoon of June 11 and found the individual deceased, who he later identified as Zane Taylor, in the living room area.
Whiteley reported that he determined that Taylor had been deceased for a short period of time and he found him largely uninjured upon examination.
“He seemed to have some swelling on the neck but it wasn’t that prominent — it just seemed to be a little odd,” Whiteley said. “Other than that, there really wasn’t much to see, so I sent him for an autopsy.”
Whiteley further reported on a preliminary autopsy report returned from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office where Taylor’s body was sent.
“The significant findings of the preliminary report were: that there was a hemorrhage in the musculature of the neck, in the deep muscles, and that requires a fair amount of blunt force,” Whiteley said. “So, there’s this blunt force injury to the interior aspect of the neck on the right side and there’s other contusions about the head, in the eye and ear area. There’s been some blunt injury to his head and significant force applied to his neck and I think you can say that without much question.”
Upon questioning, Whiteley stated that it is hard to say, at this point, with any degree of medical certainly, what caused the hemorrhage and contusions on Taylor’s body, but the injuries to the neck could be consistent with injuries that could have resulted from having one’s neck held from behind.
“This is consistent with an injury that could have rendered him unconscious. If held a bit longer it could have killed him,” Whiteley stated. “But that’s hard to say at this point.”
According to Whiteley, the final autopsy report will not be completed for approximately two months.
Following the hearing, Garrett’s case was transferred to the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas where it will be heard by a grand jury.
Garrett’s bond was also continued and remains at $1.5 million, 10 percent.
Similar hearings were also held in the cases against Redmond, Williams and Wasonga and each was bound over the common pleas court. Their bonds have also been continued and remain at $1 million, 10 percent, respectively.