Court hears opening statements in Taylor murder trial

Court hears opening statements in Taylor murder trial »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- David Ray Taylor stands accused of murdering a Eugene man and then taking the man’s car to rob a bank in Mapleton.

On Friday, a Eugene courtroom heard opening statements from the prosecution and the defense.

Police arrested David Ray Taylor and two young Portland residents in connection to the murder of Celestino Gutierrez Jr., 22, of Eugene.

Officials say Taylor, A.J. Scott Nelson, and Mercedes Crabtree, are accused of killing Gutierrez on August 3, 2012, before taking his car and robbing a Siuslaw Bank Branch in Mapleton later that day.

Taylor is also suspected of robbing a bank in Creswell, Ore. a month before.

Taylor seemed to have a very intense look on his face as Lane County District Attorney David Schwartz gave his version of what happened. Schwartz said Gutierrez left the Brew & Cue Bar on Highway 99 early in the morning on Aug. 3, 2012 when he saw two people arguing in the parking lot.

“These two people, Nelson and Crabtree, were complete strangers to Mr. Gutierrez. So he had no way of knowing this was a set up, that the dispute between Nelson and Crabtree was staged,” Schwartz said to the court on Friday.

Schwartz says Nelson pretended to abandon Crabtree at the bar. That's when she asked Gutierrez for a ride home, the DA said.

Crabtree led the victim to Taylor’s home on 4111 Jessen Drive. Schwartz said Nelson and Taylor then bound him with wire.

“They proceed to pound a crossbow bolt into Mr. Gutierrez's head. Strangled him, so he's thrown on the ground, and repeatedly choke him with a chain until he's dead,” alleges Schwartz.

Schwartz also said Taylor and Nelson cut Gutierrez’s body into pieces and put his dismembered limbs into a freezer.

“The reason? They wanted to get his car was so they could conduct a bank robbery in Mapleton,” Schwartz said.

The defense also made a brief statement Friday. Taylor’s attorney, Brad Cascagnette, said Crabtree and Nelson were in charge of transportation for the bank robbery and they planned to kill someone to aquire a car that wouldn't be reported as stolen.

Crabtree was named as a witness for the prosecution, but Cascagnette said she is changing her story.

"She's doing everything she can to protect herself and A.J. Nelson,” said Cascagnette, “My Taylor committed these bank robberies, at the end of this trial you will convict him of the bank robberies.”

The defense maintained that Nelson committed the murder, and Taylor was solely responsible for the bank robbery.