Lincoln S. Taylor

Paul Harris (left) talks to Lincoln S. Taylor, 24, at the defense table Monday. A veteran trial lawyer, Harris is defending Taylor on murder and conspiracy charges in the Memorial Day 2007 slaying of Derrick D. “Lil D” Osborne, 22. The trial is expected to take a week, Marion Chief Judge David R. Janes told the jury.

A 24-year-old Huttonsville man accused of being the shooter in a drug-related murder conspiracy last year has a witness who will testify that he was with her and not in Fairmont on the night of the fatal shooting, his defense lawyer said.

Lincoln S. Taylor was visiting an old high school girlfriend in Buckhannon on the night of Memorial Day 2007, said Paul Harris, Taylor’s lawyer.

Taylor is being tried on first-degree murder and conspiracy charges for the

fatal shooting of Derrick D. “Lil D” Osborne, 22. Osborne, of Columbia, S.C., collapsed and died in the backyard of a Highland Drive home in Bellview after being wounded three times.

The trial continues at 9 a.m. today before Marion Chief Judge David R. Janes. The jury of eight women and four men toured the murder scene and other sites Monday before hearing opening statements from Harris and Marion Prosecutor Patrick N. Wilson.

Harris said the defense also has witnesses who will say Donnell D. Lee, one of Taylor’s three co-defendants, told them he did the shooting.

Lee, 24, was found guilty last month of first-degree murder and conspiracy. A jury found he had shown Taylor and Taylor’s getaway driver where Osborne was living and the car he would be driving. Lee also suggested using a gun he had stolen earlier in the year from the apartment of a Marion County sheriff’s deputy for the slaying.

“This case is about courage — the courage of a young man (Taylor) who’s able to withstand all of the pressure brought down upon him by the state of West Virginia, with all its money and all its investigators,” Harris said.

The defense witnesses are also showing courage, he said. He accused police of placing a camera recording device outside the home of a couple on Highland Drive after they had talked to investigators.

The couple will testify they saw Lee running back to the getaway car after hearing the shots that were fired that night. They never saw Taylor, Harris claimed.

Detective Sgt. Matt Pigott of the Fairmont police department, one of the state’s first witnesses, denied the surveillance camera charge on direct examination.

Harris said the defense also believes Lee and Osborne had an argument over a woman, leading to Osborne’s killing.

The defense believes Lee and Osborne were arguing over the woman just before the shooting outside her apartment, the defense lawyer said. There were several people outside her apartment that night, Harris said.

He said the girlfriend’s keys were found outside the apartment, another sign that the murder wasn’t an ambush attack, with the shooter jumping out of the bushes, Harris argued.

But Wilson told the jury to reserve judgment on the defense’s witnesses until it has heard their testimony — and the state’s case.

He asked the jury to keep track of when police got information from the defendants. Lee never had a plea agreement with the state, Wilson said.

The names of Lee and Lafayette Y. “Goldy” Jenkins Jr., 25, surfaced soon in the investigation, he said. Lee’s statements led police to Taylor.

Police found out that Taylor had told another one of the state’s witnesses about the shooting, including details only the shooter would know, Wilson said. Taylor also told other state witnesses about the shooting, he said.

When police questioned Taylor on July 3, he admitted to knowing Jenkins, being a drug user and to being in Fairmont on the day of the murder, the prosecutor said.

Police were then led to Steven H. Podolsky, 24, the getaway driver and a friend of Taylor’s from grade school.

When police questioned Podolsky in his mother’s New Jersey hometown of Long Branch on July 6, Podolsky gave them many details. This was long before he agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges, Wilson said.

Podolsky and Jenkins will put Taylor in the conspiracy and put him at the shooting scene, the prosecutor said.

“No one should be convicted if they’re not guilty, I agree,” Wilson said.

“But on the other hand, (if) some one cold-bloodedly, premeditatedly, intentionally, maliciously, and, after conspiring to do it, hides behind a bush, jumps out and kills a man,” that person should be held responsible even if the victim was a drug dealer, he said.

The state’s evidence will prove Taylor is that person, Wilson said.

Taylor and Podolsky, 24, were selling drugs in Randolph County.

They got the drugs from Lee and Jenkins, the leader of an established drug crew in Fairmont, the prosecutor said.

Lee and Jenkins had a falling out with Osborne, a new drug dealer in Fairmont, the prosecutor said. Rumors started flying and so did threats.

Lee and Jenkins decided to kill Osborne. The evidence will show Taylor was picked for the task because of a drug debt he owed Jenkins, Wilson said.

Patrolman Derek Stevens was the state’s first witness.

He was one of the first police officers to answer a “shots fired” call on Highland Drive that night. He said Osborne had a “very weak pulse.” Osborne died shortly after paramedics from the Marion County Rescue Squad arrived.

Stevens said police found three spent shell casings on the road near the apartment where Osborne’s girlfriend was living. Detectives collected them, he said.

When he searched Taylor’s car on July 3, he found a .40 caliber Sig-Sauer pistol under the driver’s seat. He also found an unexpended shell casing.

On cross-examination, Stevens said a cocked revolver found underneath the mattress of Osborne’s girlfriend was not the same caliber as that of the murder gun. He also said he found “several different brands” of bullets in Taylor’s car.

Detective Pigott testified police have learned the pistol in the car was a gift to Taylor.

He said police found another used shell casing closer to Osborne’s girlfriend’s apartment after daybreak, Pigott said.

Detectives quickly realized that the shell casings at the scene were similar to those found in a “shots fired” incident in March in the parking lot of the Hoops Cafe, Pigott said.

Lee had admitted to stealing a .40 caliber pistol he used in that incident from a deputy sheriff’s apartment in January 2007.

When Taylor said he wanted a fresh .40 caliber for the shooting, Lee suggested using it for the slaying, according to his police statements.

Lee also told police a cell phone found in the cafe’s parking lot belonged to Jenkins.

When police examined it, they found a call from a cell phone belonging to Taylor, he said.

E-mail Bill Byrd at bbyrd@timeswv.com.

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