The Journal Gazette
Thursday, October 21, 2021 4:06 pm

Teen pleads guilty in middle of murder trial

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

One of two teens accused of killing a woman at a south-side apartment complex nearly two years ago pleaded guilty in the middle of his trial.

Senaca James, 18, pleaded guilty to murder and using a gun to commit the crime in the death of Dominique Taylor, who was shot in a car at Villa Capri Apartments & Townhomes on South Anthony Boulevard Dec. 22, 2019.

A jury was chosen Tuesday for James' trial. He decided to plead guilty Wednesday afternoon. He faces up to 85 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 3.

James, who was 16 when Taylor was killed, is one of two teens who were waived into adult court. Dawann L. Martin Jr., who was 15 at the time, is expected to stand trial Feb. 1 for the same crimes.

Officers were called about 10:40 p.m. to the apartment complex where they found Taylor in the passenger seat. Shots were fired from outside the 2014 Chevy Sonic – through the windshield, investigators said – and she was struck twice.

Taylor was involved earlier in a fight "over the return of property and finances," according to court documents, and went to the complex with a female witness not identified in the document.

The witness said she was there to meet a friend and saw two males standing by the car. Shell casings were found at the scene.

In a Feb. 11, 2020 letter to Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull, James said he fired a shot into the air before Taylor was killed. James said Martin, whom James described as a "highly known person in Fort Wayne for shooting at people," fired the fatal shots and threatened James' life if he snitched.

Martin "is likely beyond rehabilitation under the juvenile justice system," Judge Andrea Trevino wrote in an order last year waiving Martin to adult court.

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