Prosecutors stall Landing suspect's guilty plea
Victim's family wants charges upgraded to DUI manslaughter
Life will never be the same for Taylor Evans' family after he was run over in a parking lot near the Jacksonville Landing in August and later died.
"You go to bed thinking about it, and you relive it when you come here," Evans' father, Walter Evans, said at the Duval County Courthouse after attending a hearing Monday morning for one of the men charged in his son's hit-and-run death.
Brian Patterson, 32, the man police say was behind the wheel of the truck that hit Evans, wanted to enter a plea Monday on a misdemeanor DUI charge in the case. Investigators say Patterson was driving through the parking lot when Greg Johnson started punching him through the window, moments after a disagreement. Somehow, Evans, who Patterson's lawyers say jumped on the hood of the truck, fell off and was run over.
Johnson (pictured, right) is facing murder charges, which Evans' family agrees with. But they want Patterson to face a punishment much harsher than just a DUI.
"Mr. Patterson should clearly be charged with DUI manslaughter," Evans family attorney John Kalil said.
Patterson tried to enter a guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge Monday. He was also charged last week with an unrelated DUI in Baker County.
"He indicated that he was going to accept responsibility for the misdemeanor DUI," defense attorney Jesse Dreicer said. "There's no victims, no property damage, and he's willing to accept responsibility for that particular crime."
But prosecutors asked for the judge to hold off so they could gather more evidence, talk to more witnesses, and consider if they should and could upgrade to more serious charges in the death of Evans (pictured, below). The judge gave them a two-week extension.
"You have to be able to prove causation, and you have to be able to prove certain elements of that crime," Assistant State Attorney Lee Smith said. "And the way things are presented to us, as of right now, we believe we've filed the proper charge, which is DUI."
"It's an August incident. There've been months of time to investigate, find out what really happened, and they've had all the time in the world," Dreicer said. "They've met, they've interviewed witnesses, they've gotten sworn testimony and statements. So there's no ploy by the defense to come in and sneakily do something."
So Evans' family will wait and hope the man police believe was behind the wheel gets what they say he deserves -- a DUI manslaughter charge.
"Day by day you just hope you can learn to live with it, but you'll never forget it," Walter Evans said.
Patterson is scheduled to be back in court Dec. 18, when he could possibly be sentenced. In the meantime, he's being held at the Duval County jail without bail because his bond was revoked after his second DUI charge in Baker County last week.
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