Wife tells jury husband’s fatal car-crush was an accident

Posted: October 26, 2012

Keisha Jones - the West Philadelphia woman accused of fatally crushing her husband with her car - took the stand in her own defense Thursday, sobbing as she told a jury that her husband's death was an accident.

After the prosecution and defense rested their cases Thursday afternoon in Common Pleas Court, the six men and six women on the jury began deliberations. They will resume Friday morning.

Jones, 31, is charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, and possessing an instrument of crime, a 2002 Acura SUV. On Nov. 27, 2011, prosecutors say, she struck her husband, Tyrone Taylor, with the car, crushing him against a wall in an abandoned lot in Grays Ferry after a quarrel.

On the witness stand Thursday, Jones said she and Taylor had been married eight years and had two children together. "We were good parents," she said. "We had the life we never had with our own parents."

On Nov. 27, she said, she and Taylor spent the morning together and went out in South Philadelphia that night. Jones told the jury she had about three to four mixed drinks and four shots before heading home.

In the car, with Taylor driving and her second cousin Tamara Stanford in the backseat, Jones said, she and her husband got into a fight regarding her friendship with Stanford.

Jones said that she and Taylor were drunk as they drove toward Stanford's house and that eventually Taylor got out of the car and began walking toward a relative's house near the 2400 block of Morris Street in Grays Ferry.

"I'm like, 'No, come here. You trippin'," Jones said. She said she got into the driver's seat and tried to turn the car onto nearby Ringgold Street as Taylor ran through the lot, but she said her foot hit the gas pedal and the gearshift stuck.

"I did everything in my power to try to stop the car. I didn't even know Tyrone was hit. . . . It happened so fast," she said, fighting back tears. "My whole life crashed in front of me. My husband was dying in my arms."

Prosecutors cried foul on Jones' testimony, saying it contradicted statements she had given police. Jones signed a statement in a police interview hours after the incident in which she indicated she had "chased after" Taylor as he ran through the lot. The statement also did not include any information about a stuck gearshift.

Jones said she told another officer about the stuck gearshift, but that didn't make it into the statement she signed during a formal interview with a detective. She said she was distraught and was "signing anything" in the interview room.

"The statement was important, but me losing my husband was more important," she said. "I guess [the detective] put what he wanted to put."

The jury also viewed video of the incident Thursday, with prosecutor Deborah Nixon producing footage that shows the Acura pulling up to a curb and Taylor walking out. Seconds later, the Acura turns to the right, striking Taylor and pushing him into a wall 32 feet away. After a pause, the SUV backs up and Jones can be seen running toward Taylor.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Richard DeSipio told the jury that Jones was guilty of "killing someone, driving drunk," but that she wasn't a murderer and hadn't acted with malice. He emphasized the fact that Jones did not flee and was found holding her husband's body.

Nixon told the jury that Jones didn't fit the stereotype of a murderer but argued that Jones had acted with the intent to kill Taylor and that she changed her story on the stand Thursday because she was trying to avoid responsibility for the crime.

Contact Aubrey Whelan

at 215-854-2771 or at awhelan@philly.com, or follow @aubreyjwhelan on Twitter.

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