A man convicted of killing a man in a domestic dispute will get a new trial after an appeals court ruled that the failure of the prosecutors to call key witnesses made the jury’s verdict “unsafe”.
Originally charged with murder, Xavient Taylor was convicted, in 2017, of manslaughter in the 2009 stabbing death of James Gardiner in Montell Heights.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Gardiner was fatally stabbed outside the home of his girlfriend, Tiffany Knowles.
On November 2, 2009, he went to Knowles’ home to visit. However, the appellant Taylor, with whom she has a daughter, was visiting.
Gardiner asked to speak to Knowles, but she told him they could discuss it another time.
Gardiner demanded his DVD player.
Taylor gave it to him and asked him to leave.
Although he left the house, Gardiner remained outside.
Gardiner was then fatally stabbed during an altercation with Taylor on the premises.
Prosecutors contended that Taylor was the aggressor.
However, Taylor maintained that he killed Gardiner in self-defense.
The trial judge admitted the witness statements of Vanessa Cooper and Bradley Williamson under section 66 of the Evidence Act after prosecutors said they couldn’t be located.
However, although these witnesses showed up before the conclusion of the trial, they weren’t required to testify.
In a ruling delivered Tuesday, Justice of Appeal Milton Evans said the prosecution had a duty to call Cooper, who claimed that she saw Taylor leave the house with a knife.
Evans said, “The position that I have taken relative to the two statements admitted under section 66 leads me to the view that the verdict by the jury is unsafe and unsatisfactory having regard to the circumstances of the case.”
Murrio Ducille represented Taylor and Kendra Kelly appeared for the prosecution at the appeal.