Columbia youth found guilty in parking garage attack

Thursday, September 17, 2009 | 10:13 p.m. CDT; updated 8:38 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 18, 2009

COLUMBIA — After deliberating less than an hour, a jury found a Columbia teenager guilty of second-degree robbery in connection with a June 6 attack on a Columbia man in a downtown parking garage. 

Charles Williams III, 17, was the first of three suspects to be tried in an attack that Williams’ own lawyer said was “horrendous.”

The incident was captured by surveillance cameras on the first level of the parking garage at Tenth and Cherry streets. The victim, Adam Taylor, 25, testified he did not remember all of the night’s events. But he watched along with the jury as the video recording of it was played in a Boone County courtroom on Thursday afternoon.

The video shows Taylor being struck from behind by a man witnesses identified at the trial as Lee Andre Barney, 19. Taylor can be seen falling forward and hitting his face on a door jamb near the exit to the garage and collapsing to the ground. A second man, identified by witnesses as Williams, then kicked Taylor twice while he was down. The two men then ran away.

A few moments later, several young men — including the assailants — surrounded Taylor as he lay on the ground and took his wallet.

Williams’ attorney, Harry Williams (no relation), did not deny his client’s involvement in the attack but challenged the state’s charge of second-degree robbery.

“Maybe he is guilty of assault, but that’s not what they charged him with," Williams said. "They charged him with robbery.”

In a police interview shown in court, Williams said that he didn't get any money in the incident and that it was Barney who took the wallet.

From the surveillance video taken from the garage, it wasn’t clear who took the wallet.

But Prosecutor Richard Hicks said Williams was involved in the robbery and that Missouri criminal law allows for multiple suspects to be charged with a crime if they are believed to have committed it together.

The defense called no witnesses.

As he waited for the jury to return with its verdict, Williams stared at the floor, tears in his eyes, gently shaking his head as his mother tried to console him.

“You know you made a mistake,” she said softly. “Stop crying. It’s gonna be all right. It’s gonna be all right.”

Williams’ sentencing hearing will be held Friday. He faces a five- to 15-year sentence.

Since the attack, Adam Taylor and his mother, Karen Taylor, have pushed the City Council to put portable surveillance cameras around Broadway and other downtown areas, according to previous Missourian reporting. Karen Taylor also started a Web site to discuss public safety in Columbia.

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