Prince George's jury deadlocks on charges in street racing case

One of the two men charged in an Accokeek street racing accident that left eight people dead has been issued a $1,000 traffic fine.
By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Prince George's County jury deadlocked Monday night on the most serious charges facing one of the drivers in an illegal street race that killed eight people in Accokeek a little more than two years ago.

After deliberating for about 15 hours over two days, the jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the eight counts of vehicular manslaughter against Tavon Taylor, 20, of Waldorf.

The jury was split 9 to 3 for conviction, according to sources familiar with a note the jurors sent to Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Whalen.

Taylor was convicted of driving in an illegal street race and of reckless driving. J. Wyndal Gordon, his attorney, said Taylor faces a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and no jail time when he is sentenced on Tuesday.

"We wanted the world to know Tavon Taylor was not responsible for these deaths, and the jury was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt," Gordon said.

State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, who helped try the case, said he was pleased with the convictions on the traffic offenses.

"We look forward to re-trying the manslaughter counts," he said.

The crash made national headlines and drew attention to the secretive world of illegal street racing, a subculture that has thrived for decades in parts of the Washington area. Prosecutors say that two races were held that night, Feb. 16, 2008, and that Taylor and the man he was competing against plowed into spectators from a previous race.

That man, Darren J. Bullock, 22, has pleaded guilty to eight counts of involuntary manslaughter and faces 15 years in prison. Authorities say Bullock's car was going faster and was the first to hit the spectators.

About three dozen relatives and supporters of Taylor waited in the Upper Marlboro courthouse throughout the day and into the night, until the jury announced it was deadlocked, shortly before 8 p.m. Those gathered declined to comment.

Taylor, dressed in a black suit, blue dress shirt and black tie, did not react as the verdict was read.

Canice Proctor, whose teenage son was watching the separate race when he was struck by Bullock and seriously injured, said of the verdict and mistrial: "It is what it is." She added that given how long the jury deliberated, she was not surprised by the mistrial.

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