First-degree murder suspect back in custody after ‘process error’ allowed his surprising release

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 7:19 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After being released on his own recognizance (ROR) on Saturday, Gary Taylor stood before a Shelby County judge and was quickly told that his release should never have happened.

Taylor, who has been charged with first-degree murder was released on New Year’s Eve without having to pay a cent of bail, and the top law enforcement official is now calling this a “process error.”

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy’s office informed us they had no part in Taylor’s release, as the error occurred before the case ever got to them.

The DA provided a statement that, in-part, explains what happened:

A look at Taylor’s bail setting form, signed by Judicial Commissioner Robert Barber, showed Taylor was released on New Year’s Eve without paying bond.

Inside the courtroom on Tuesday morning, Taylor was quickly taken back into custody and was instructed by Judge Christian Johnson about his current status in the justice system.

“Mr. Taylor, you were released in error,” Judge Johnson said. “There was actually no bond set. You were not supposed to be released under your own recognizance, since you are charged with first-degree murder, which carries the punishment of possible death.”

Taylor was then cuffed and escorted out of the courtroom.

“I was shocked,” said attorney Arthur Horne.

Horne was inside the courtroom representing Daniel Bates, who has also been charged with first-degree murder for allegedly being involved in a December 21 killing of Markeith Taylor.

The two are mentioned in the affidavit, both identified by a witness, but unlike Taylor, Bates was not given bail or lack thereof.

“My client’s role seems to be small,” Horne said. “Based on what they did with Gary Taylor, we thought (Bates) was going to get a bond. Somebody brought it to the media’s attention... I think somewhere along the line, someone dropped the ball.”

Judicial Commissioners ultimately answer to Shelby County Commission.

We’ve reached out to County Commission Chair Mickell Lowery, asking where the disconnect took place that allowed Taylor to walk free.

We’ve also reached out to several Shelby County Judges with the same question.

We’ve not heard back from some, and for those who responded, we’ve not received information that could answer our question.

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