Take 5

Teenager Tavon Scott Found Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter, Acquitted of Murder Charges

July 27, 2023

In a courtroom split between the families of the defendant and victim, 16-year-old Tavon Scott was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and two handgun charges. Despite this, he was unanimously acquitted of first and second-degree murder charges.

The defense team, led by attorney Warren Brown, requested a delay in sentencing to “fully utilize” a “juvenile psychologist” for preparation. Brown said they are preparing to present a 60-page report detailing Scott’s psychological mindset and background.

“He avoided the first- and second-degree murder convictions,” Brown explained. “The jury found that, yes, he was somewhat justified, there was some mitigation, there was some justifiable excuse for what he did, but it did not rise to the level of total, total exoneration, total self-defense of himself or others.”

Brown further shared the defense’s optimism about the forthcoming proceedings. “We’re elated that he was not found guilty of murder one or murder two, and we’re optimistic that we will find ourselves quite pleased with the way the disposition unfolds,” Brown stated.

Thiru Vignarajah, an attorney representing the victim’s family, stated that the verdict brings a measure of justice and closure. “He’s been held accountable in adult court for the crime that he committed,” said Vignarajah.

In closing arguments, the state argued premeditation, alleging that the then 14-year-old Scott crossed a street, retrieved a mask and gun, and shot the victim, Timothy Reynolds, 48, five times as he walked away.

Assistant Baltimore City State’s Attorney Cynthia Banks pointed to video evidence, witness accounts, and DNA evidence found on the straps of a backpack carrying the gun as substantial proof. “It’s science, plain and simple,” she affirmed.

On the other hand, defense attorney J. Wendell Gordon criticized the investigation, calling it “asymmetric, lopsided, and full of bias,” asserting there was “no clear identification of my client.” Gordon claimed that the state’s case relied on “video you can’t see” and argued that “the state has even failed to prove chain of custody of the body.”

The defense argued that Scott was not the shooter and that the shooting happened in self-defense. As is his constitutional right, Scott elected not to testify in his own defense, and the defense did not put on a case. The state had the burden of proof, which the jury had to decide whether was met. The case has drawn attention due to Scott’s age and the serious nature of the charges.

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