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Man found guilty of theft after representing himself in court

April 06, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - A Washington County man who represented himself during a jury trial Thursday morning in Washington County Circuit Court was taken into custody by lunchtime.

Norman Taylor, no age available in court documents, was charged with theft in the case of a missing 1996 Volkswagen Passat that a woman took to USA Transmissions on Maugans Avenue for repair.

Taylor appeared in court without a lawyer but requested a jury trial.

A jury deliberated for less than half an hour before finding Taylor guilty.

Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long sentenced Taylor to 18 months in jail with a year of that time suspended. After six months in jail, Taylor will be on supervised probation for 18 months, Long ordered.

Katherine L. Burris testified Thursday that she handed the keys to her car to Taylor in March 2006, and over the course of a few months paid him $1,650 for work on the vehicle's transmission. She said the business closed in October and she did not know where her car was.

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"He still has my car to this day," she testified.

Under cross-examination by Taylor, Burris said that she never reported to police that her car was stolen but that she spoke with the Attorney General's Office about the situation.

Larry Munson, of the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office, testified Thursday.

When Taylor had an opportunity to question Munson, he asked Munson who recommended that he be charged with grand theft auto. Taylor was not charged with grand theft auto.

When Taylor had an opportunity to testify in his own defense, he seemed confused as to how to question himself.

"I don't really want you to run down there and ask yourself questions and run back up here to testify," Long said. Long directed Taylor to tell the jury his story from the witness stand.

Taylor testified that Burris did not tell USA Transmissions whether she wanted her money back or for them to fix her car. The car is at a secure location where the business moved on Leitersburg Pike, he testified.

"The vehicle is still there awaiting her tow service," Taylor said.

Taylor disputed his responsibility for paying back Burris. A woman he alternately referred to as his wife and his ex-wife owned the business and should have to pay Burris, he said.

"I have no money in my pocket. I do not have her money," he testified.

He also ordered Taylor to pay court costs and $1,650 in restitution to Burris.

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