Updated Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 10 a.m. CDT
Taylor was sentenced to 35 years on the first-degree felony. The robbery charge was dropped. Nazir Kazmi, the victim of the crime, agreed to the terms of the plea deal.
The owner of a Tyler convenience store testified Wednesday that an 18-year-old alleged gang member on trial for robbery and engaging in organized criminal behavior was one of two people who beat him in the face in January, causing his face to bleed and his glasses to break.
Nazir Kazmi, 63, who was on the witness stand, pointed to Jamon Nicholas Taylor of Tyler and said “he's right here, he was the first one (to hit me).” Kazmi said a second person began to hit him, but because his glasses were broken and there was blood in his eyes, he was not able to positively identify that second individual.
The robbery took place Jan. 27 at the Conoco convenience store at Van Highway and West Gentry Parkway. Four men, including Taylor, are accused of robbing the store. Two of the robbers confronted the owner behind the counter and beat him with their fists while the others grabbed packs of cigarettes from behind the counter, according to the arrest affidavit.
Taylor faces up to life in prison on charges of robbery and engaging in organized crime, prosecutors said. Taylor also could receive probation.
Kazmi, who is originally from Pakistan, but has been a U.S. citizen since 2004, testified that his five children were afraid for him to go to work after the robbery. “My children asked me not to go to work; they were very scared,” Kazmi told the jury. He has since closed the convenience store, testifying that his business had been very slow since the robbery and that he was afraid to work at the store.
Smith County Assistant District Attorney Jason Parrish showed the jury photos of Kazmi after he was treated at a local hospital. Kazmi's eyes were swollen and blackened, and there were stitches on his cheek.
“This street gang is known for its robberies, rapes and murders … their goal is to instill fear in their victims and take what they want,” Parrish said.
The prosecutor told the jury that it would see the defendant in photos flashing gang signs. Defense Attorney Hunter Brush declined to make an opening statement.
But before testimony concluded for the day, Smith County Judge Jack Skeen Jr. of the 241st District Court sent the jury out of the courtroom to conduct a hearing. Brush said in front of jurors that he never received copies of some video recordings made when Tyler police detectives interviewed Taylor on the day of his arrest. The copies of the recordings were supposed to come from the Smith County District Attorney's Office.
But Parrish produced copies of a signed log, along with a fax confirmation, which showed that Brush did indeed pick up the discs. Skeen ruled that prosecutors had made the information available to Brush as was required by law, and allowed the discs be admitted into evidence.
The three other suspects identified in the robbery are Stephen Ray Sadler, 18; Michael Avory Hayles, 17; and Prince Kentrell Hull, 18.
Sadler was in the Smith County Jail Tuesday on bonds totaling $805,000 on charges of robbery, evading arrest and engaging in organized criminal activity. Hayles, 18, was jailed on charges of robbery and engaging in organized criminal activity on bonds totaling $550,000, and Hull, 19, was jailed on robbery and engaging in organized criminal activity charges on bonds totaling $550,000.
Testimony continues on Thursday.