September 30, 2014

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Witness describes fatal beating on first day of capital murder trial

From left, judges Lisa Swenski, Christopher Rothgery and John Miraldi hear testimony during the Clarence Adams III capital murder trial Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

From left, judges Lisa Swenski, Christopher Rothgery and John Miraldi hear testimony during the Clarence Adams III capital murder trial Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Accused killer Clarence Adams III delivered a “field goal”-like kick to Lamar “Mark” Taylor’s face during a fatal beating in the early morning hours of April 8, 2012, a witness to the attack testified Thursday.

“He put everything he had into it,” Jose “Macho” Torres told a three-judge panel during the first day of Adams’ capital murder trial.

The capital murder trial for Clarence Adams III began on Thursday.

The capital murder trial for Clarence Adams III began on Thursday.

Torres said he had been out with Adams, co-defendant Austin Diaz and two other men the night of the killing and they had stopped at a house on East 34th Street in Lorain. He said he was sitting in a 2001 Honda Civic putting marijuana in a cigar when Adams and Diaz got out of the car.

He said the men began following Taylor, who was walking down the street, and then attacked him. Torres got out of the car, he said, to see what was happening and saw the two men kicking and hitting Taylor “like a punching bag.”

Taylor was trying to protect himself from the blows. Torres said he called out for Diaz and Adams to stop, but they threatened him to stay out of it and continued to attack the victim.

Torres testified that his phone was out of power, so he ran two blocks to his cousin’s house to get help.

He said he burst into the room where his cousin and her husband were sleeping and yelled for them to call police as he collapsed on the floor, out of breath.

Lorain police Officer Matthew Bonkoski testified that he was one of the first officers to arrive. Police found Adams on the street and put him in a patrol car. He said Adams had a cut on his arm and blood on his pants and shoes.

It wasn’t until after officers found Taylor’s battered body up the street that Bonkoski said he handcuffed Adams and noticed that the tread of his shoes matched bloody footprints at the scene. Police also found a trail of blood leading down the sidewalk.

Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Laura Dezort said in her opening statement that Adams and Diaz brutally attacked and robbed Taylor, who was an “innocent man walking down the street.”

She said evidence showed that Taylor had tried to get away from his attackers, moving up the sidewalk toward his ex-wife’s house, where he was living. Diaz and Adams kept after him, raining blows on him and stomping on him as he tried to escape, Dezort said.

“They did not stop. They did not let him go. They pursued him,” she said.

The pair also stole Taylor’s watch, wallet, cell phone and other items, Dezort said. Some of the stolen items were later found in the Honda.

Graphic crime scene photos showed the extent of Taylor’s injuries, most of which were centered on his head and face.

Defense attorney Kreig Brusnahan told the judges that Adams was not the principal offender and wasn’t involved in robbing Taylor. Diaz also has pleaded not guilty in the case and is awaiting trial.

The start of the trial, originally slated to begin Tuesday, was delayed while Brusnahan tried to convince Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor to remove county Domestic Relations Judge Lisa Swenski from the panel.

Brusnahan had contended that a comment by Swenski’s husband, Lorain attorney Zachary Simonoff, showed the judge was inclined to impose a death sentence. But Swenski successfully argued the comment was taken out of context and that she would follow the law when it came to imposing the death penalty if the 23-year-old Adams is convicted.

Common Pleas Judges John Miraldi and Christopher Rothgery are the other members of the panel hearing the trial, which resumes today.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.


  • Sis Delish

    Looking forward to listening to them gurgle on the table.

  • golfingirl

    A chance for Miraldi to “redeem” himself.

    Let’s see if he imposes the proper sentence this time.

    • It has to stop

      Jackson was on video. Miraldi was unable to give the proper sentence then. What makes you think he will this time when all they have is a bleary eyed blunt rolling hood as the witness for the prosecution.

  • michelle

    Now let’s all hear about his abusive childhood, criminal, drug abusing parents and how society failed him. What is even more shocking is this was a random attack, not even payback for some gang related offense. Not that it makes it anymore excusable.

    • franksnbeans

      Couldn’t agree with you more Michelle!!!

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    With this guy on the bench, there will be no justice.

  • Matthew Gerhart

    eye for an eye! give him the same beating he gave, how do these defense attorneys sleep at night defending bottom of the gene pool, waste of oxygen, drain on society animals like this. lock up his parents also for not teaching him a god damn thing about life!!

  • DonMega

    He is so guilty why he didn’t take the deal..