Monday, July 15, 2024

Sentencing for the Ebby’s gunman has been delayed. Here’s why

Michael Sean Taylor (Courtesy VPRJ)
Michael Sean Taylor (WYDaily/Courtesy VPRJ)

A man who shot an Ebby’s Auto Painting & Collision Repair employee and then barricaded himself in the business for several hours in July 2017 will not be sentenced for at least another month.

Michael Sean Taylor, 41, of Hampton, appeared Tuesday in York-Poquoson Circuit Court for sentencing, but the hearing was continued to resolve two new charges recently brought by a grand jury.

Steven Barnette, Taylor’s attorney, said the indictments — attempted first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony — were expected and brought back to correct a “procedural mix-up.”

The issue stems from one particular charge against Taylor: use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

On March 1, Taylor pleaded guilty to seven charges, including three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, shooting into an occupied building or dwelling, two counts of abduction and aggravated malicious wounding.

In turn, prosecutors dropped two charges: attempted first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Prosecutors did not initially intend to drop the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony charge as part of the plea deal, but they were forced to because Virginia Code requires that charge to accompany certain felonies, such as abduction or murder.

On March 1, Judge Richard Rizk pointed out that a person cannot be charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony if there is no associated felony — or if the associated felony is not one listed in the use of a firearm section of the Virginia Code.

At the time of Taylor’s March 1 plea, the only remaining felony that could accompany the use of a firearm charge was a charge of shooting into an occupied building or dwelling.

That charge cannot support a use of a firearm charge, according to the Virginia Code.

A grand jury brought back the attempted first-degree murder and use of a firearm charges in March and July, respectively.

In court Tuesday, Barnette said he expects the two new charges will be resolved with another plea deal.

Taylor is scheduled for another court appearance at 9 a.m. Aug. 21, when he is expected to either take a plea or schedule a trial date.

Once the new charges are adjudicated, a new sentencing date will be set.

According to York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, Taylor shot Joey St. Clair, an auto painter at Ebby’s, on July 25, 2017. Investigators said the shooting was related to a domestic situation.

St. Clair survived the incident but still struggles with injuries he suffered during the shooting, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Krystyn Reid said in March.

A criminal complaint filed in York-Poquoson General District Court says Taylor approached an employee outside Ebby’s and demanded to see “Joey the painter.”

Taylor then shot a handgun down into a pillar at the front entrance of the business.

The employee, in addition to a second employee, led Taylor inside the business.

When the three men went into another bay where St. Clair was working, Taylor fired a round into St. Clair’s abdomen, causing St. Clair to fall to the floor.

Taylor shot St. Clair several more times when he was on the ground, documents state.

Taylor barricaded himself inside the building for several hours following the shooting, sheriff’s office officials said. He was taken into custody after police breached the building.

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Sarah Fearing can be reached at

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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