Jury Finds Man Guilty of Attack on 2 Women, Judge Ups Bail to $1 Million
A Centre County jury found a 19-year-old Maryland man guilty Wednesday of attacking two women in downtown State College last fall.
The jury found Claudius Taylor guilty of robbery, unlawful restraint, indecent assault, simple assault, unlawful taking and receiving stolen property for the Oct. 13 incidents.
Here's how authorities describe the crimes:
In the early morning hours, Taylor approached a young woman who was walking alone in downtown State College. She was walking to a friend's car when Taylor gave her a fake name and said he was looking for his friends.
By the time the victim realized she had gone the wrong way, the two were walking in a poorly lit residential area. As she tried to call a friend for help to find the car, Taylor put his hands on her, ignoring her repeated requests to stop touching her, and he pushed the victim between two houses. Taylor then tackled the victim into a bush, and got on top of her.
The victim fought with Taylor and hit him in the head with a bucket. Taylor took the bucket from her and pinned her arms to the ground above her head, and stole her cell phone as she fought with him and screamed for help. People nearby heard the victim screaming, "Get off me, don't touch me, give me my phone." Taylor then fled with her phone, just before three people came to her aid.
Taylor fled into Fairmount Park where minutes later he came across his second victim - a young woman who was cutting through the park as a shortcut. The victim heard Taylor's footsteps behind her and began to speed up. As she realized the footsteps were getting very close, she turned around and Taylor immediately and repeatedly struck her on both sides of her face and forcing her to the ground.
Taylor grabbed her hips and the victim fought back letting out what multiple witnesses described as a series of "blood curdling" screams.
Nearby officers who were responding to the first victim heard the screams and ran to assist her. Knowing Taylor couldn't have gotten too far, they set up a perimeter and Taylor was spotted running out of extremely thick bushes between two nearby houses sweating profusely.
Taylor ran from the police for several blocks, jumping fences and running through dense vegetation, dumping the first victim's cell phone in a fraternity yard.
As police closed in, ordering for him to stop, a bystander tackled Taylor to the ground.
Taylor posted his previous bail amount prior to trial. After the verdict, prosecutors argued Taylor's bail be increased. Centre County Common Pleas Judge Bradley P. Lunsford set bail at $1 million and placed Taylor in the Centre County Correctional Facility.
Sentencing for Taylor is slated for May 9.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said in a prepared statement, "This defendant wandered into our community and ruthlessly ambushed these women under the cover of darkness, fleeing only when he could no longer stifle their cries for help. Thankfully, their screams did not fall on deaf ears. Our police officers, several good Samaritans, and this jury answered them with swift justice."