WEST PALM BEACH - A jury on Friday convicted a teenager in the brutal gang rape attack on a woman and the beating of her young son, the fourth suspect charged in the case now facing life in prison.
Jakaris Taylor, 17, hung his head and rubbed his face as the verdict was read. Family members in the gallery cried. Taylor was convicted on all 13 counts against him, including sexual assault, kidnapping and grand theft.
Two others charged in the case - Tommy Poindexter, 20, and Nathan Walker, 18 - were convicted on most of the same counts last month. A third defendant, Avion Lawson, 16, pleaded guilty and testified against the others.
Sentencing for the three convicted men is set for Oct. 13.
Authorities say all four suspects barged into the then-35-year-old woman's West Palm Beach apartment in 2007 and raped her repeatedly with up to six other masked, gun-toting teens. They say the teens also forced the woman to perform oral sex on her then-12-year-old son and beat him before dousing the pair with household chemicals to clean the crime scene.
Attorneys in the case declined to comment on Friday. Taylor's family members quickly left the courtroom sobbing.
"This defendant, Jakaris Taylor, and his little buddies orchestrated that night of terror," prosecutor Aleathea McRoberts told jurors earlier in the day during closing arguments. "This is the most egregious treatment of another human being by another person."
Defense attorney Chris Haddad argued that his client was only there to try to stop the attack, and only simulated a sex act with the victim to appease his friends. Haddad portrayed his client as an impressionable 15-year-old at the time of the crime.
"Crazy Tommy was calling the shots," Haddad said, referring to Tommy Poindexter, the oldest suspect convicted in the case. "Is it that unusual to imagine that the older guys would be trying to direct the younger guys, and tell the younger guys what to do?"
During the trial, the victims testified about that night of horror June 18, 2007, a few miles from downtown West Palm Beach.
The mother, now 37, recounted how she prayed for her life and cried in pain as she was repeatedly raped and her son beaten. Throughout the attack, the teens demanded money, but she had none. The victims had fled even worse poverty in their native Haiti several years earlier, landing in the crime-plagued Dunbar Village housing complex where the attack occurred.
Authorities say fingerprints and DNA found on clothing and condoms inside the apartment identified the defendants. They are still seeking additional suspects.