A Gulfport man was shot to death by his nephew after an argument over a child riding a bicycle in the street, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
It took a jury one hour to deliberate Wednesday and find a 29-year-old Gulfport man guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his uncle, District Attorney Joel Smith said in a press release.
Circuit Court Judge Chris Schmidt sentenced Dante O’Bryan Taylor to life in prison. Taylor must serve the sentence day-for-day, as he was sentenced as a habitual offender because of prior felony convictions.
On Sept. 24, 2014, Gulfport police responded to a shooting at a home near Roberts Avenue and 23rd Street, where they found 40-year-old Willie Lee Taylor unresponsive with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Assistant District Attorney Mitch Owen said Willie Taylor was rushed to Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, where he was pronounced dead.
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Owen, who prosecuted the case at the two-day trial with Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker, said the police investigation on scene determined Dante Taylor shot his uncle in the stomach after an altercation and fled the scene before police arrived.
Testimony at the trial revealed the shooting stemmed from a family argument the night before Willie Taylor was killed.
Witnesses testified Willie Taylor hid a child’s bicycle because the tot was riding it in the street, and it led to an argument between Willie Taylor and Dante Taylor’s sister and niece, and Dante Taylor was told about the argument.
The defendant then began sending threatening text messages to his uncle, according to the press release.
At 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2014, Dante Taylor drove to a family member’s house with a handgun, the press release said, and Willie Taylor arrived at the house later that day.
When the two men approached each other, witnesses said Willie Taylor raised his fists and Dante Taylor took out his gun and shot him in the abdomen.
“After the shooting, as family members were crying and trying to call 911, the defendant got in his car and fled the scene,” Owen said.
Dante Taylor took the stand and said he was scared for his life when his uncle approached him, so he shot him and left the scene out of fear. But he admitted in cross examination he left the scene, got rid of the handgun and deleted the threatening text messages he sent to Willie Taylor the night before, according to the release.
The jury ultimately sided with the prosecution.
“This has been a very emotional week for all those involved and even more so because the murder involved two members of a family,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, in recent times, we so too many people handling their disputes with a gun instead of common sense.”