Julia White finished decorating her Christmas tree Monday night, carefully placing ornaments she’d picked up earlier that day with images of her son, Ka’Ron Taylor, on prominent boughs.
Wearing a red and white Christmas sweater in her bedecked home, White was trying to make it feel like the holidays and to remember her son.
Taylor was fatally shot Aug. 6 in broad daylight in Northeast Baltimore’s Hamilton Hills neighborhood. When her son was killed, White said, she was too emotional to speak out. But as Baltimore’s homicide count mounted this year with more and more young black males killed, White increasingly felt the need to talk because the circumstances of her son’s and others’ deaths were all too similar.
While her son’s death remains extremely painful, she wants others to know that she thinks the legal system could have helped her son more, by keeping him in jail and sending him back there when he violated the terms of his probation.
Taylor was in and out of jail, White said, and the 20-year-old was on probation at the time he was killed.
She remembered a January 2018 incident involving a stolen car that crashed on her block. White told Baltimore police at the time that she thought her son was in the car. He was taken to jail and charged with four felonies, including first-degree assault, unlawful taking of a vehicle and theft. He was convicted for the car theft but released on probation in August 2018.
This year, on June 28, Taylor went to court for a probation violation, White said, but he was quickly released.
The day he was killed, he went to court again for violating probation and was released yet again, White said.
White said she kept hoping he would learn from his actions, from his run-ins with the law and trips to central booking.
Now she feels that the justice system let him, like many other young males, she said, “slip through the cracks” as they return to the streets and repeat their behaviors until things got worse.
“The day my son was killed he should have been in jail,” White said.
“The probation officer knew about him getting locked up each and every time and they didn’t do anything," she said. “They would just treat him like he was their friend. They thought what he was doing was cute.”
Her son’s behavior changed significantly from when he was a young boy as he grew into a 20-year-old man, she said. Taylor often spent his time at their Hamilton Hills home playing video games, she said. He attended Yorkwood Elementary School, located nearby in the Loch Raven neighborhood.
When Taylor was 9, they moved to McCabe Avenue in the York-Homeland neighborhood. Her son still stayed in the house — sometimes going outside and playing basketball in the back of their home.
After White and her son moved to the Greenmount and Barclay area in East Baltimore Midway, she said she began seeing a change in the behavior of her then 15-year-old son and the kids he began hanging around with.
Taylor would often go back to his old neighborhoods and stay out late at night, she said. But he also was involved in other activities like playing basketball at a recreational center in Greenmount.
“That was one of his strong interests — he loved to play basketball,” she said.
At school, Ka’Ron struggled with how he was being taught — often having to sit in the back of the classroom while someone read his school assignments to him. He felt like an outcast from other students, White said, prompting him to miss classes and roam the school hallways.
White said she fought with Baltimore City Schools often after her son said he was not getting the services he needed.
And although White tried to shield her son from the drugs and violence that White believes his peers grew up seeing too frequently, she said he ended up falling victim to that lifestyle.
“I can’t say that him growing up, those were the things he saw. He saw it when he became a teenager and that is what made him want to become a part of it. It was like a rush for him. It was different,” White said.
“Ka’Ron has never went hungry. He has never wanted for anything in his entire life. I have always made sure my kids have had what they needed.”
White said she plans to stay home with the rest of her family as she spends the first Christmas without her son.
Officers have not identified a person responsible in Taylor’s death, White said.
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Detective Jeremy Silbert, a police department spokesman, said Tuesday , “This case remains open and there have been no arrests.”
Silbert, reached after hours on Christmas Eve, added that he reached out to the detectives handling the case in response to questions from The Sun, but had not heard back over the holiday.
At the time of Taylor’s killing, Baltimore had experienced around 200 homicides. Now, there are 338, just four fewer than in all of 2015 and 2017. The city’s homicide rate — measured in killings per capita — has eclipsed past records.
White thinks the police view his death as just one of the many in 2019.
“I think it is wrong the way that they do these families with these cases because everybody needs closure at some point and I don’t know if we will ever get that for my son’s case because it is not like it’s a top priority for the city,” White said.