A light in the hallway outside TV weatherman Rob Williams’ bedroom woke him up around 3:30 a.m. June 4, and it took him a few seconds to realize a man he’d known more than a decade was in the house without permission.
Within a half minute or so Williams — a meteorologist at WJHL-TV — had a crossbow bolt sticking from his chest and was trying to keep Gerald Taylor, who he described as his roommate from getting into the bathroom.
Taylor, 53, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and violation of an order of protection on the TV weatherman.
Williams, whose real name is Robert William Batot, described the attack in a court hearing Tuesday. The charges against Taylor were bound over to a grand jury after General Sessions Judge James Nidiffer listened to the testimony.
According to Williams, he first went into his bathroom after being awakened by Taylor turning on a light.
“That's where I usually keep my cell phone,” Williams said. But that night, it wasn’t there.
“I went back into the bedroom to get my phone and that’s when he shot me with the crossbow.”
Williams said he again retreated to his bathroom and tried to hold the door closed with one hand and dial 911 with the other. But with the struggle going on, he couldn’t get the emergency number dialed. He also heard a gunshot as he stood in the bathroom but didn’t know until later that Taylor had fired into the floor.
He gave up on trying to hold the door closed, he said, and opened the bathroom door. That’s when Williams realized Taylor had a gun and the two men struggled over it, he said.
“He bites me a couple of times ... I get frustrated with myself in that situation. I got up and ran outside,” Williams testified.
Finally, he was able to call 911, but Taylor began to chase him.
“I keep running,” going through neighbor’s yards, until police arrived, Williams said.
“I think at one point I lost him and shortly after that the police showed up.”
The crossbow bolt was still lodged in Williams’ chest, he said, and he was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center to have it removed.
During his direct testimony, Williams described his relationship with Taylor as roommates, but on cross examination Assistant Public Defender Phillip Ratliff pressed further.
“Both names are on the deed” to the house, Ratliff asked.
“Yes,” said Williams.
“You were more than roommates?”
“Yes,” said Williams.
“In fact, you were in a relationship,” Ratliff asked.
“Yes,” Williams said.
He testified he’d known Taylor since 1991 and they’ve lived together at least since 2006 in the home at 11 Ashworth Court, Johnson City, where the attack occurred.
In response to a question from Assistant District Attorney General Michael Rasnick, Williams said the relationship had dissolved.
Williams filed a petition for an order of protection May 29 after he said Taylor threatened to kill them both. That hearing is scheduled for today, but at the time of the attack there was an ex parte order of protection in place. That means Taylor was prohibited from being at the house or anywhere around Williams.
Williams also testified that a laptop the men both used at the house was returned to him by police. Taylor had possession of it prior to the attack, Williams said. When he received the computer from police, he discovered Taylor had searched the Internet for answers to learn if an 80-pound crossbow could kill a person and if a pillow could be used to muffle the sound of a 9mm handgun.
Johnson City police Investigator Michael Barron testified that officers found several letters lying on Taylor’s bed that gave instructions about his wish to be cremated and how to contact his ex-wife and children.
Taylor remained jailed on a $121,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in criminal court July 20.