AUGUSTA — A Norridgewock man accused of strangling his then-girlfriend in Waterville because she refused to buy him more beer pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence assault Thursday, after reaching a plea deal with the state just as his jury trial was to start.

Derek Taylor

Derek D. Taylor, 35, who according to court records has three prior domestic violence assault convictions in the last 10 years, was sentenced to 74 days in jail, which he already had served while awaiting trial after his November 2018 arrest.

Taylor took the plea deal offered by state prosecutors in the courtroom Thursday morning as a jury that had been assembled to hear the case waited elsewhere at the Capital Judicial Center.

He was accused of putting his hands around a woman’s throat, squeezing until she couldn’t breathe for three to five seconds, and punching her in the face after he became angry in a heated argument because she refused to buy him more beer, according to an affidavit filed in court by Waterville police Officer Daniel Goss. Goss said when he interviewed her the day after the incident, he could see bruising and a scratch on the left side of her neck, and swelling and redness on her left cheek.

The initial charge against him was class C domestic violence assault, a felony-level charge carrying a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

In exchange for his no-contest plea, the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office reduced the charge to a class D crime, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison, and agreed to the 74 days of time served as Taylor’s sentence. In a no-contest plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but a guilty finding is still the result.

After the court proceedings, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said that Thursday morning the defense attorney, William Baghdoyan, told Judge Eric Walker he wanted to introduce information at the trial about the victim’s past. The state argued that only evidence regarding the assault should be allowed, but Walker disagreed. She also said the jury would not hear about Taylor’s past in the trial.

Maloney said that after that ruling Thursday morning, she talked to the victim, who said she wanted the state to agree to the reduced misdemeanor domestic violence assault conviction for Taylor.

“I decided to agree with the victim’s wishes,” Maloney said. “When evidentiary rulings are made on the day of the trial, they need to be considered in deciding how to proceed when these rulings have a large impact on the victim.”

The victim recently took out a protection order against Taylor, banning him from contact with her.

In court, Assistant District Attorney Michael Madigan told Walker the victim in the case was briefed on the plea deal and “she was on board with it. She understood what we were doing.” He said she was asked if she wanted to say anything in court and “she said no, she had no interest in doing that.”

Taylor was sentenced to 20 months in prison for violating a bail condition in 2017 by repeatedly phoning the same woman who was a victim in the recent case from Kennebec County jail.

In May 2017, Taylor pleaded guilty to making phone calls to the same girlfriend in the period from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5, 2017, from the jail.

Taylor was in jail at that time after he was charged with domestic violence against that same woman and escape, which allegedly occurred Dec. 25, 2016, in Benton. In exchange for a guilty plea to the bail condition violation, the state dismissed the charges of domestic violence assault and escape. Madigan said at the time that calls monitored at the jail showed Taylor asked others to call the woman and that he spoke directly to her to tell her to say that his sister was responsible for the assault, not he.

Walker asked Taylor in court Thursday if he understood that his no-contest plea would result in a guilty finding, and if he thought agreeing to the plea deal was in his best interest. He answered yes to both, but said little else in court.

Taylor was also assessed a $20 victim’s fee as part of the resolution.

Baghdoyan said Taylor could not pay that amount Thursday because he had no job. He was given 30 days to pay the fee.

After the plea deal was discussed, the jury was brought into the courtroom briefly so Walker could explain the turn of events to them. He, Baghdoyan and Madigan thanked the jury for their service.

“The parties eventually reached an agreement this morning and they did that because you folks were here,” Walker said to jurors. “The fact you were here today, ready to hear the case, is the reason this case resolved itself. I want to make sure you know your time is not wasted. It led to the resolution of this case.”

 

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]
Twitter: @kedwardskj

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