A 35-year-old mother who was killed in a violent attack along with her toddler Sunday morning has been identified. But the type of injuries that led to the death of both the 1-year-old child and her mother are pending autopsy.
Darrell Gerard Taylor, 34, of Wilmington, made his first appearance Monday morning in New Hanover County District Court on charges of two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Yawanda Felecia Doe and her 1-year-old girl, identified by the initials D.T. in a warrant, according to District Attorney Ben David.
He also appeared on two counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with causing serious bodily injury with a machete to Doe’s 3-year-old boy, also with the initials D.T., and a 46-year-old woman who was not related to the other victims, David said.
Police found Doe and her child dead inside a car at Greentree Apartments off Greentree Road in Wilmington, according to Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Linda Rawley. Investigators suspect the violent attack, which also injured the surviving child and woman, occurred at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
Taylor was found outside the apartments in the 4700 block of Greentree Road when officers arrived on scene, Rawley said. He was reportedly armed with a weapon, but police were able to take Taylor into custody.
Along with the murder and attempted murder charges, Taylor faces an additional charge of robbery with a dangerous weapon in connection with using the machete to take the 46-year-old victim’s car keys, David said.
The 46-year-old woman and 3-year-old boy were taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center to be treated for serious injuries, Rawley said. According to Claire Parker, spokeswoman for New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the woman is in good condition. The boy is in good condition and was alert and speaking with detectives, police spokeswoman Cathryn Lindsay said.
Police have not stated what type of injuries the deceased mother and her child suffered in the attack. David said he could not confirm if the machete was used in the death of Doe or her daughter.
“Whether or not [the machete] was used in the two murder cases or whether or not a gun is involved in those murders, again, that’s being the subject of medical examination right now. And we’re going to let medical examiners talk about that,” David said in a news briefing after Taylor’s first appearance. “I can tell you that is something that will be relevant later and will be explored in the courtroom.”
The state does anticipate an additional charge of felony possession of a firearm by a felon along with other possible charges, David said. Any additional charges will be presented to a grand jury for indictment at a later date.
According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Taylor was previously convicted of three felonies including possession with intent to sell a schedule VI controlled substance, breaking and entering and possession of a schedule II controlled substance. He was also convicted of seven misdemeanors including assault on a female, speeding from police and misdemeanor drug possession.
New Hanover County Judge James. H. Faison III appointed Taylor an attorney with the Capital Public Defender’s Office. Taylor was ordered to be held without bond at the New Hanover County Jail.
Members of the victims’ family were present during the hearing on Monday and met with prosecutors after Taylor’s first appearance in court, David said.
“It’s a large and loving family. And I know that they are hurting right now and that they are relying on each other. They came today seeking justice. And we’re going to do everything within our ability to make sure that they get it. This is a case that I know a number of people in the community have grave concerns about and are very saddened by [this case]…our hearts go out to them,” he said.
David said he will prosecute the case for the state, along with Assistant District Attorney Christa Lawler. In addition, David said he will be meeting with his team of prosecutors in the future to determine whether the state should seek the death penalty in the case.
David said the nature of the case made it a death penalty-eligible case.