After a weeklong trial, the third and final suspect in a 2021 fatal robbery in Annapolis was found guilty Tuesday of 11 charges, including first-degree murder, armed robbery and firearm offenses.
Shammond Taylor, 24, faces a life sentence for the murder count and more than 100 years in prison collectively for his part in the Oct. 14, 2021, robbery that left Baltimore resident Cornell Young dead the day after his 22nd birthday.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 30.
The jury’s decision this week closes the state’s final case in Young’s death and the only one in which prosecutors Jason Steinhardt and Brian Pritchard had to argue before a jury. The other defendants, Kenon Jackson, 22, and Jaonte Coates, 33, submitted Alford pleas to first-degree murder and were sentenced to 25 and 20 years in prison, respectively.
An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but concedes prosecutors would have enough evidence to secure a conviction in a trial. It carries the same weight in sentencing as a guilty plea.
Taylor, accused of firing the gun that killed Young, faced 18 charges and was found guilty of 11: first-degree felony murder, two counts each of felony armed robbery, using a handgun in the commission of a crime and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, as well as first-degree assault, carrying a firearm, theft of less than $100 and possessing a firearm with a prior violent crime conviction.
Taylor has had prior convictions for possessing a firearm as a minor and second-degree assault, the latter disqualifying him from owning a firearm.
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The other seven charges were either entered as “nolle prosequi” and dismissed, or the jury did not render a verdict.
State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said in a statement she was “thankful to the jury who listened to the facts and found the defendant guilty.”
On Oct. 14, 2021, Young came to Annapolis with a friend to meet Jackson, who was waiting for them at a parking lot on Pleasant Street. After the Baltimore man addressed Jackson, Taylor came out of a Mercury Grand Marquis and pointed a gun at the pair. Jackson then took the friend’s backpack and began rummaging through Young’s car, a gray Honda, with Coates, who was waiting nearby.
As the two now-sentenced men searched his car, Young tackled Taylor and attempted to disarm him, prosecutors said. Young was shot several times in the struggle and later died of his injuries. After the shooting, Coates and Taylor fled from the scene on foot with Taylor dropping his cellphone in the process. Jackson drove away in the Grand Marquis.
An investigation revealed Taylor had gone to an AT&T store after the murder and purchased a SIM card for the phone number matching the phone left behind. The entire encounter was also captured by nearby security cameras.
Defense attorney Henry Barnes was not immediately available for comment.
“Young men are killing other young men in our county because gun violence has become the norm,” Leitess said. “The convictions of these three men mean that our community may be safer and Mr. Young’s family may find some peace and closure because of it.”