The unexpected murder of KJ Taylor sent shockwaves through the Charleston, West Virginia community. As a high school student leading a normal life, the circumstances surrounding why he became a target for gunfire remained a mystery to many. The investigation led the police to Dekotis Thomas, a notorious individual with a prior conviction for homicide, who was well-known for his activities in the streets. ‘See No Evil: Fallen Star’ delves into the motives behind Taylor’s murder and unfolds the story of whether Thomas faced justice for his actions.
How Did K J Taylor Die?
Kelvin “K J” Taylor, an 18-year-old student at Capital High School in Charleston, West Virginia, was a talented and promising individual. The beloved son of Tara Richmond and her husband, his parents couldn’t envision life without him and had a lot of hopes for him. Known for his athletic prowess, K J was a standout player in both basketball and football at the school and was enjoying his life as any normal teenager would.
On April 7, 2021, just a month before his graduation, a little before 8 p.m., Kelvin Taylor found himself on the corner of Glenwood and Central Avenue on the west end of Charleston. A man in a Ford F-150 approached him and fired multiple shots, with Taylor sustaining a fatal gunshot wound to his chest. The assailant quickly fled the scene, and despite the prompt arrival of first responders, Taylor had already succumbed to his injuries. After a post-mortem report that declared the reason for his death to be bullet wounds, his funeral was held on April 16 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Who Killed K J Taylor?
The police faced significant challenges in their investigation as the assailant had swiftly entered and exited the scene, leaving little trace for identification. It seemed like searching for a needle in a haystack. Collaborative efforts from the United States Marshal Service (USMS), Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force (NOVFTF), and Akron Police Department were deployed to crack the case. A breakthrough was reached when the police gained access to surveillance CCTV footage, allowing them to identify the culprit as 19-year-old Dekotis Thomas. In 2019, Thomas faced murder charges related to the shooting of 28-year-old Antwan Curnell on Interstate 77 at the northbound Westmoreland Road exit.
Thomas had a history of minor criminal activities, and neither the authorities nor K J’s family could initially establish any connection between Thomas and the victim. They seemed to inhabit different spheres of life. A member of the NOVFTF managed to pinpoint Thomas’s location in the 600 block of Glendora Avenue in Akron, Ohio, suggesting that he might be in hiding. The police approached the house, initiating a conversation with Thomas from the outside in an attempt to negotiate his surrender. However, Thomas was unwilling to give up peacefully. Instead, he set fire to the house, launched a Molotov cocktail at the police, and attempted to flee the scene.
The police successfully apprehended Thomas, who was indicted on four charges, encompassing the 2019 murder and the killing of K J Taylor. He was taken into custody, and preparations for his trial commenced. Thomas claimed to the police that during the shooting, he did not intend to harm K J; instead, he was firing at someone else. Unfortunately, he missed his intended target, and K J was fatally shot. The individual Thomas had aimed to kill was later identified as Keyshawtna St. John. In March 2022, St. John was shot, and his assailants were identified as Mikeo Wooton, Dunbar Lee Foote Jr., and Davone Lee Foote Jr. Thomas, entangled in a gang conflict, inadvertently killed K J while targeting St. John.
Dekotis Thomas is Serving His Life Sentence Today
In Dekotis Thomas’ case, just days before the scheduled trial in August 2022, he opted for a Kennedy plea to first-degree murder. A Kennedy plea, also known as an Alford plea, is a type of guilty plea in which the defendant maintains their innocence but acknowledges that there is enough evidence to likely secure a conviction. It allows the accused to plead guilty while simultaneously asserting their innocence. Thomas, at the age of 20, chose this plea deal after evaluating the substantial evidence against him. As part of the agreement, he took the deal for the murder of K J Taylor while requesting the dismissal of all other charges.
At the sentencing hearing, K J’s mother expressed the profound loss of her son, even though Thomas never intended to harm him. Thomas was also given a chance to make a statement; he said, “I want to apologize to the family for their loss. I hate that they have to go through this. The spirit will always be with them every step of the way. I will forever keep them in my prayers. It was never my intention to hurt KJ.” On December 2, 2022, Dekotis Thomas received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He is currently serving his sentence in one of the West Virginia Department of Correction units.