A known gang member charged with first-degree murder walked out of 201 Poplar with no bond by mistake.
In court Tuesday morning, the judge said Gary Taylor, 26, was released in error. He was not supposed to be released on his own recognizance.
Critics who say there is a revolving door at the county jail point to this case as a perfect example of what’s wrong with the Shelby County criminal justice system.
A witness told police they saw Taylor shoot and kill a man. Taylor, said the witness, kept firing bullets into the victim even after he was down on the ground.
That same witness is so afraid of Taylor and his gang, Memphis Police specifically mentioned the witness’ full name is not included in the affidavit for the witness’ protection.
On Wednesday, December 21, at 660 Wells Avenue in North Memphis, homicide investigators with the Memphis Police Department said the victim, Markeith Taylor, was shot and killed in a vacant lot. A witness positively identified Gary Taylor as the gunman.
The court affidavit said Taylor is a gang member who goes by the nickname “Lil Gary.” Court documents also said “due to the concern for the safety of the witness, the full name is being withheld.”
Ten days after the crime, “Lil Gary” was arrested. But then one day later he was released on his own recognizance. The Shelby County Pretrial Services Bail Setting Form showed no bail for Taylor, the zero bond issued by judicial commissioner Robert Barber.
Taylor’s release is the latest in a dangerous trend in Shelby County Courts, according to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
“This revolving door is like catch and release,” said Mayor Strickland, “a fisherman often does that. They’ll catch and release. Police are catching the criminals and the courts are letting them go. That has to end.”
Of Taylor’s release, Mayor Strickland sent the following statement to Action News 5:
“It is outrageous that a person charged with first-degree murder is so easily released from jail. This is yet another example of the revolving door at 201 Poplar, which puts us all at risk by releasing violent criminals back in the community and sends a signal to other offenders that there is little consequence to their violent actions.”
And Action News 5 received this statement from Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy:
“The DA’s office is aware of the inquiries surrounding the case of Gary Taylor, who is charged with first-degree murder and was recently released on his own recognizance. The DA’s office played no role in the decision to release Mr. Taylor pending trial. However, we are monitoring the situation.”
Keep in mind, the DA’s office, at the request of the NAACP, is still reviewing the case of the man charged with attacking a fellow golfer on December 3 at the Links at Whitehaven. The attack was so severe, the victim, Mark Coleman, needed emergency brain surgery and is still hospitalized. The suspect, Wesley Caldwell, received a low bond of $5,000 and is currently out of jail.