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Mentally ill man pleads guilty to felonies but judge, attorneys perplexed on next step

Staff photo / Ed Runyan Kyle D. Taylor, left, talks to Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on Monday during his plea and sentencing hearing. At right is his attorney, J.P. Laczko.

YOUNGSTOWN — Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and attorney J.P. Laczko found themselves perplexed by the case of Kyle D. Taylor, 37, who pleaded guilty Monday to five felony offenses.

Many of Taylor’s crimes were committed against officers working for the sheriff’s office during his incarceration there over the past 14 months, but it began with an assault on a woman.

Patrick Kiraly, assistant county prosecutor, asked Durkin to give Taylor 12 years in prison for the crimes, which were contained in three separate cases in August of 2022 and August of 2023. The judge gave Taylor 10 years in prison.

In the first case, which involved a felony domestic violence charge, Taylor severely beat a pregnant woman because she “did not have money to buy him drugs,” Kiraly said. Kiraly gave the judge photos of the woman’s injuries.

Later in August 2022, Taylor was in the Mahoning County jail when he got angry with a deputy and threatened to rape the deputy’s children and used a racial slur.

“Four days later, the defendant again became upset. During that case, he called both female deputies (expletive) for just doing their job,” Kiraly said.

On Aug. 22, 2022, Taylor spit in a jail deputy’s hair and called her similar vulgar terms and “said he hopes she got hepatitis from his saliva. He also said he was trying to get one of the deputy’s guns “so he could take it and in fact, kill him with it,” Kiraly said.

Two days later, Taylor told a deputy if he gets out of jail, he was going to stab the deputy in the neck. Three days later, he told another deputy he was going to find him outside of jail and kill him and made threats toward the deputy’s family, Kiraly said. Taylor said he would “dedicate his life” to it,” Kiraly added.

Eight days later, Taylor, who has a history of self-mutilation, had to go to the hospital for injuring himself in the stomach. While he was there, he spit on nurses giving him medical care. He called them vulgar terms and threatened them also.

It was determined that Taylor had hepatitis C at the time when he was spitting on the nurses, Kiraly said.

“No person, especially a deputy or a nurse who are there to provide services to the public, should be treated the way the defendant treated them,” Kiraly said.

The comments Taylor was making “should not be taken lightly because it’s clear that the defendant’s conduct is continuous, and he may in fact follow through with what he wanted to do,” Kiraly said.

Laczko told the judge that Taylor has been hospitalized 13 times and has been incarcerated 15 of his 37 years. He has a long history of drug addictions. The hospitalizations relate to Taylor’s self mutilation, Laczko said. He does not know if the mutilations are an attempt to “seek attention” or a type of manipulation.

But “there is nothing about this case that is normal in any sense of the word,” Laczko said. Taylor’s behavior “has never been normal.”

His mother was a drug addict when Taylor was born and died two years later. His father was an addict, and Taylor was raised by his aunt.

Taylor was evaluated for these cases to determine whether he was competent to stand trial and sane at the time of the offenses and was found competent, Laczko said.

Laczko told the judge he does not know what the answer is for his client.

“I can’t come up with an idea or a suggestion for what we have to do, what we can do. We could put him away for 40 years. It’s not going to do anything for his mental health or change his behavior. I don’t know the answer. This is the most perplexing situation I’ve ever dealt with in my legal career,” he said.

Durkin talked about Taylor’s case as part the “broken” system of criminal justice regarding people with mental illness.

“We end up incarcerating the mentally ill because there is no other place for them,” he said. “It is certain that jail, that prison, cannot provide the treatment services that are needed to address the problems that put these people in the problem in the first place.”

“I too wish I had an answer to this problem. I don’t. I don’t have any prophet like revelations to say ‘I’ve got an idea,'” the judge said.

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