UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – Two men accused in a deadly street race appeared in court today. One was taken to prison. The other is now facing a retrial. Eight people died in the accident two years ago on Indian Head Highway.
Prosecutors say Tavon Taylor and Darren Bullock were racing at more than 100 miles per hour, when Bullocks car ran down a group of spectators from an earlier street race. Tavon Taylor appeared first.
The judge set an October 18, 2010 date for his retrial on vehicular manslaughter charges. The jury deadlocked on the charges Monday night.
Bullock came next. He had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charges in January. Today he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Before he was taken away, Bullock apologized. Bullock read from a prepared statement, telling the families of the eight people he killed that he, “understood the great pain the accident caused… and I accept responsibility.”
As Bullock was handcuffed friends and family burst into loud sobs crying.
“We’re sorry for everything that has happened,” Bullocks mother Angela Bell said, wiping away tears.
“We’re sorry for the families that have lost love ones, but as well we have lost,” she said outside the courthouse.
Bullock’s white Crown Victoria plowed into a group of spectators who had just finished watching an illegal street race. Prosecutors say he was racing at the time too.
“I think it’s important that Mr. Bullock took responsibility for his actions. I know it’s important for families to know he’s been held accountable on all eight of these deaths,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey who tried the case.
Tavon Taylor, the man prosecutors say Bullock was racing, was convicted of reckless driving and participating in a speed contest last night, which carries a fine of $1,000.
Today his sentencing on the traffic offenses was postponed until his October retrial on the manslaughter counts.
“I don’t think there’s gonna be a jury in the state of Maryland that can unanimously agree that Tavon Taylor caused the death of those eight individuals,” said his defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon.
Bullock did not testify in Taylor’s trial.
His family says Bullock admits speeding but was not racing and that the two just happened to be driving the same direction at about the same time. Some of the blame they say is on the two cars street racing just before the accident.
“It would be great to see one of them stand up and come forward to at least accept some of the responsibilities,” said his uncle Mike Walls.
Taylor is the only other person charged and he’s taking his chances a second jury won’t convict him.
Before handing down Bullock’s sentence, Judge Michael Whalen told Bullock “I know you did not intend what took place… but with your extremely reckless and wanton conduct you struck and killed eight men…No one,” the judge said, “who was there that morning will forget the carnage they saw.”