Charge against Taylor upgraded to attempted first-degree murder

Prosecutors have upped the charge against a Hampton accused of shooting an Ebby’s Auto Painting and Collision employee.

An omission in the initial criminal complaint was corrected Friday in York General District Court, and Michael Sean Taylor will now be charged with first-degree murder, York Commonwealth’s Attorney Benjamin Hahn said.

He was previously charged with attempted second-degree murder.

The initial criminal complaint said Taylor was looking for the victim when he went into Ebby’s just before 9 a.m. July 25 and approached two other employees of the shop before finding the victim, Joseph St. Clair, and shooting him several times, including once in the abdomen. Taylor barricaded himself inside the building for about three hours before officers lobbed four rounds of gas inside the structure and took him into custody.

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office had sought, and Sheriff J.D. Diggs had announced, an attempted first-degree murder charge against Taylor. In that scenario, before a magistrate can authorize an attempted first-degree murder charge, the commonwealth’s attorney must sign off on it, Hahn said.

While Hahn said he had signed off on the charge, because that authorization was not included in the criminal complaint, the charge initially filed was attempted second-degree murder, Hahn said.

Attempted first-degree murder carries a possible sentence of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 if found guilty, while an attempted second-degree murder conviction includes a sentence of between five and 40 years, according to Virginia law.

Hahn said the sheriff’s office has updated the criminal complaint.

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