The Journal Gazette
Saturday, December 04, 2021 1:00 am

Teen given 80 years for '19 murder

Woman, 18, slain while in vehicle

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

Brandy Parrish was planning her daughter's funeral at a time when many parents were looking forward to seeing their children for Christmas.

“No parent should ever have to bury a child,” Parrish tearfully told Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull on Friday before Gull sentenced Senaca James to 80 years in prison for killing Parrish's daughter.

Dominique Taylor, 18, was shot while sitting in a car Dec. 22, 2019 – three days before the holiday. She was in a parking lot at Villa Capri Apartments and Townhomes on South Anthony Boulevard, just south of Lafayette Street/Decatur Road.

James, who was 16 at the time, is one of two teens charged in the killing. Dawann L. Martin Jr., who was 15 at the time, is expected to stand trial Feb. 1 on charges of murder and using a gun to commit the crime.

James, now 18, pleaded guilty to those crimes in the middle of his trial in October. He apologized to Taylor's family in court Friday. “I did what I did. I can't take it back,” he said. “I wish I could.”

Parrish and Alexiss Taylor, Dominique's sister, asked the judge to give James the maximum sentence.

“There are no words to describe losing my sister,” Alexiss Taylor said. “She was a light in a dark room.”

James faced up to 85 years in prison. He took responsibility for his actions, Gull said, but she questioned his sincerity, noting he pleaded guilty after 13 witnesses testified at his trial.

On the night of the shooting, police were called about 10:40 p.m. to the apartment complex where they found Taylor in the passenger seat. Shots were fired from outside the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic – through the windshield, investigators said – and she was struck twice.

Taylor was involved earlier in a fight “over the return of property and finances,” according to court documents, and went to the complex with a female witness. The witness told police she was there to meet a friend and saw two males standing by the car.

James' attorney, Robert Gevers, described his client as a “compulsive, immature young man” who has some mental health issues.

But Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tom Chaille argued James had planned to kill Taylor all along.

“This was not an impulsive act,” Chaille said. “This was a premeditated, brutal ambush.”

Gull sentenced James to 60 years for murder and 20 years for the gun-use enhancement. She ordered the sentences be served back to back, for a total of 80 years, and also ordered James to pay Taylor's family $20,783 for funeral expenses.

“This was completely ridiculous,” Gull told James. “You had no business doing what you did.” 

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