Charges reduced in crossbow attack on weatherman

Becky Campbell • Jul 10, 2012 at 9:41 PM

The man charged with shooting a local TV weatherman in the chest with a crossbow after breaking into the house the two shared more than a decade got a break in one respect in the indictment presented to a grand jury Tuesday, but was also slapped with a new weapons charge.

Gerald Taylor, 53, is accused in the June 4 attack on Rob Batot, known professionally on WJHL-TV as Rob Williams. Taylor was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary.

But when the case went to a grand jury, it was presented and indicted as aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Taylor is accused of shooting Williams with a small crossbow and firing a 9mm handgun into the floor during the assault.

Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks said he looked at the evidence and determined the state could not prove intent, one of the required elements of attempted first-degree murder.

“Attempt requires that the person’s entire course of action be indicative of the crime attempted. I don’t think we can meet that standard,” he said. But with the addition of the firearm charge, a conviction would guarantee a consecutive sentence.

“The employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony is a crime that’s only a couple of years old,” Brooks said. “It carries non-probatable and consecutive time to the underlying dangerous felony, which in this case is the aggravated burglary.”

The minimum sentence for the firearm charge is six years on top of a three to six year sentenced on the aggravated burglary. Aggravated assault also carries a three to six year sentence, Brooks said.

The incident happened at 11 Ashworth Court, where the two men had lived for more than 10 years when their relationship ended, according to Williams’ testimony during a preliminary hearing in June.

Williams had also filed a petition for an order of protection against Taylor just a few days before the attack. Taylor apparently entered the house that night through a bedroom window and surprised Williams in his bedroom.

Williams retreated into a bathroom after being shot with the crossbow bolt, then exited after Taylor fired one gunshot. It was later determined Taylor fired the shot into the floor right outside the bathroom door.

Police previously said Taylor shot at Williams, but that was later clarified. No shots were fired at Williams as he fled from the house and called 911. When officers arrived, Taylor was located nearby sitting on a dock.

In another case, the grand jury indicted a Kingsport man charged in a traffic death of a Kingsport woman earlier this year following a domestic dispute.

Cody L. Dingus, 20, Kingsport, on charges of vehicular homicide and evading arrest. The charges stem from a Feb. 14 attempted traffic stop and subsequent fatal crash that killed a passenger in Dingus’ car, 18-year-old Sheridan Edwards, also of Kingsport.

The incident started as a physical domestic altercation at University Edge

Apartments. Witnesses told police that Dingus attempted to pull Edwards from a vehicle before he left the area driving fast with Edwards in his car. When an officer attempted to pull the car over, Dings sped away and ran a red light at West Market and Knob Creek Road as he turned onto Knob Creek.

The officer terminated the pursuit, but proceeded down Knob Creek and came up on the vehicle after it crashed. Dingus and Edwards were ejected from the car and Edwards died from her injuries.

Both Dingus and Taylor will appear in Washington County Criminal Court later this month on their charges.

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