Thursday, February 28, 2002

Witness says he saw fatal shots

Man was passenger in defendant's car

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Prosecutors in the aggravated murder trial of Montez Taylor introduced a surprise witness Wednesday who said he saw Mr. Taylor fire the shots that killed two men last year.

        David Johnson testified that he was a passenger in the same car as Mr. Taylor on July 23.

        He said he saw Mr. Taylor, 23, of Silverton, shoot and kill Clem Turner III, 20, of Mount Auburn, and Lornie P. Starkey, 22, of Kennedy Heights.

        Mr. Taylor had contended Mr. Johnson shot the two men and that he was being mistaken for the real shooter.

        Prosecutors called Mr. Johnson, telling the court that he had been staying with an uncle in Los Angeles and they had only recently found him.

        Mr. Starkey and Mr. Turner were shot to death on Dryden Avenue in Pleasant Ridge after a drive-and-shoot battle between two vehicles. Prosecutors contend that Mr. Taylor initially fired shots at the vehicle containing the victims. When they tried to get away, he chased them.

        The car containing Mr. Starkey and Mr. Turner crashed, overturning, on Dryden. Prosecutors said Mr. Taylor left his vehicle and went to the overturned vehicle and fired several shots inside.

        After Mr. Johnson's statements Wednesday, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Fred Cartolano suspended proceedings, saying the investigation by Cincinnati police of the deaths of Mr. Turner and Mr. Starkey “leaves a lot to be desired.”

        “This is a case where two people died in cold blood,” the judge said. “I do think this case needs some investigation even at this late stage.”

        He said police disregarded an eyewitness and failed to find him. “I leave it up to authorities to determine what they want to do with this,” the judge added.

        The trial is to resume today.


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