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Man convicted of 2 murders gets 6 1/2 years for violent escape from state juvenile center
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Man convicted of 2 murders gets 6 1/2 years for violent escape from state juvenile center

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A Fredericksburg man convicted in 2015 of fatally stabbing two men was sentenced Thursday to serve 6½ years in prison for his role in a violent escape last summer with another inmate from the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in Chesterfield County — the facility’s first breakout in 20 years.

Jabar A. Taylor, who was 20 at the time, along with accomplice Rashad E. Williams, 18, overpowered a security employee by placing a handmade weapon to his body and wrapping a cord around his neck. They then forced him to the ground, took his keys and escaped by cutting a hole in a perimeter security fence with a pair of bolt cutters. A car with Pennsylvania plates that was idling in the road drove them from the scene, according to evidence.

Soon after the escape, authorities learned that Taylor and Williams were aided by two Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice employees and a relative of Williams who lived in Philadelphia.

Taylor pleaded guilty Thursday in Chesterfield Circuit Court to escaping by force from a juvenile correctional facility, assault and battery of a corrections officer and possession of a cell phone while incarcerated. In accordance with a plea agreement, Circuit Judge Frederick G. Rockwell III sentenced Taylor to 15 years in prison with eight years and six months suspended, giving him 6½ years to serve.

Taylor’s active prison term was above discretionary state sentencing guidelines, which called for a punishment of between one year and 11 months at the low end, and five years and nine months at the high end.

Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacey Davenport sought an upward departure from the guidelines because of the violence used in the escape, the extensive law enforcement resources required to find and capture Taylor and Williams, and the serious nature of Taylor’s prior offenses.

At the time of the July 13 escape, Taylor was serving a 50-year sentence for fatally stabbing two men and seriously wounding a third during an altercation that Taylor’s older brother started outside the Cook Out restaurant in the Greenbrier Shopping Center in Fredericksburg. He was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding and criminal solicitation.

Taylor, who was 15 at the time, was committed to the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center until his 21st birthday, at which time he was to be transferred to an adult prison. He turned 21 on Aug. 25.

According to Davenport’s summary of evidence, Bon Air security specialist Paul Mahan let three juvenile inmates out of their rooms about 12:15 a.m. after they requested to use the restroom. One of the juveniles then turned off the lights as Taylor approached Mahan and placed a handmade weapon with a screw on the end against his torso.

At that point Williams wrapped a cord around Mahan’s neck and he was taken to the ground. Both Taylor and Williams continued to struggle with Mahan as Williams took his keys.

Taylor then ran to his room and grabbed a white bag before exiting the housing unit through a door that Williams unlocked with Mahan’s keys. Moments later, security specialist Deirda Morrison, who was near the facility’s perimeter fence line, saw Taylor and Williams go through a hole in the fence that Williams cut with bolt cutters.

From there, Taylor and Williams were seen getting into a vehicle that was waiting for them on the road outside the facility. The bolt cutters and a cell phone later were recovered near the section of fence that was breached. The weapon used to threaten Mahan was found inside the housing unit.

Mahan, who lost consciousness during the attack, took himself to a local hospital for treatment of scratches to his face and torso. He missed “a significant amount of work,” Davenport told the court.

Investigators learned that a portion of the escape was recorded by the facility’s video system, showing Taylor engaging in a physical altercation with Mahan before exiting through an exterior door.

“Upon further investigation, it was discovered that ... Williams had been in possession of the cellphone found near the fence since June 2020, and had used the phone to communicate with individuals outside of the facility on numerous occasions,” Davenport said. “These communications resulted in the bolt cutters being delivered to the facility ... and the vehicle arriving at the facility to assist Taylor and Williams in their escape.”

Davenport said Williams was the mastermind of the escape, and he began planning it before Taylor was moved into the housing unit with him. “Taylor simply agreed to join Williams, but he did not actively participate in planning the escape,” the prosecutor said.

Williams pleaded guilty Feb. 2 to 10 felonies for his role in the escape. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 5.

At the time of the escape, Williams was serving 18 years on convictions of robbery and other offenses in Fredericksburg and Stafford and Spotsylvania counties. Williams was 16 when he and another teen robbed two women and a 7-Eleven at gunpoint in May 2018.

After an extensive manhunt, Taylor and Williams were captured July 25 at a hotel in Battle Creek, Mich., about 120 miles west of Detroit. The U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force had pursued numerous leads in several states that showed that Taylor and Williams were traveling together and had initially fled to Pennsylvania.

Williams’ relative, Gerald Thompson, 33, of Philadelphia, was charged with four counts of aiding with the escape of a juvenile. His trial date is to be set for May 17.

Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center employee Destiny Harris, 23, of Chesterfield, was charged with two counts of aiding with the escape of a juvenile. She is scheduled to plead guilty on April 20, according to court records.

Darren Briggs, 42, of Lawrenceville, who also was employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice, pleaded guilty Feb. 19 to a misdemeanor charge — reduced from a felony — of aiding with the escape of a prisoner. Davenport said Briggs delivered a cell phone to Williams, although Briggs had not purchased it. Briggs was sentenced to 12 months in jail with 10 months suspended.

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