Daughter of homicide suspect: Mom was engaged in sexual activity just before the shooting

Troy Lee Taylor, 38, faces an open murder charge in the death of Timothy Henley, 40, following a shooting in Gobles, Michigan. (WWMT)

When the shots were fired, the teenage children of a man now charged with murder were in the silver BMW. And not long before, the 14-year-old daughter testified Thursday, she discovered her mother engaged in sexual activity in a black Jeep at the public lake access area near their home.

The children of Troy Taylor, 38, charged with killing Timothy Henley, 40, on June 21, 2018, testified in a Van Buren County courtroom Thursday in their father’s preliminary hearing.

Taylor’s 14-year-old daughter was first to testify about the deadly night. Taylor was also present in the courtroom.

The teen testified she lives with her grandmother, in Gobles, along with her 13-year-old brother and mother, Martina Smith. The 14-year-old told the court she was babysitting her half-siblings at the Gobles home while her 13-year-old brother was spending the day with Taylor. She mentioned Smith and Taylor had a Friend of the Court hearing earlier in the day.

The 14-year-old said Taylor traveled to the Gobles home to drop off the 13-year-old. Their mother was not home. She explained she and her brother tried contacting Smith, after she was expected to be home. After several failed attempts of reaching Smith by phone calls, text and Facebook messages, the children said Taylor also tried to contact her. The children said they asked their dad to wait with them at the Gobles home until their mother arrived. He agreed.

As it got later in the evening, the children noticed headlights of what looked like their mother’s car, a black Jeep, pulling into a public access near a lake next to their Gobles home.

The prosecuting attorney asked the children if they remembered seeing Taylor with gun earlier that day. Both teens said yes during their testimony and described a grey handgun.

The children mentioned in testimony that Taylor noticed a Michigan Department of Natural Resources officer at the public access and told the children to wait a few minutes before going to check on their mother. When the prosecuting attorney asked the children why Taylor made them wait, the teens said it was because they’re father told him he was not supposed to have a gun in his possession.

After the DNR officer left, Taylor’s children said they got in his BMW and Taylor drove to them to the public access, parking several feet behind the Jeep. The 14-year-old said she approached the driver side of the Jeep, seeing Henley behind the wheel and Smith in the passenger seat. The 13-year-old said he also got out of the BMW and approached the Jeep, but only saw his mother in the passenger seat. Taylor’s daughter said she witnessed Henley and Smith in a sexual act. The teen said she started yelling at the two inside the Jeep. She explained she saw her father standing outside of the driver’s door of his BMW with a gun in his hand.

The two teens walked away from the Jeep, told Taylor it was time to go, and they drove back to the Gobles home. The teens went inside the house to pack an overnight bag to stay with Taylor because they did not want to stay home. After the kids packed their bag, they got back inside Taylor’s BMW and Taylor began backing out of the driveway. The 13-year-old was in the front passenger seat, the 14-year-old was in the back behind the driver’s seat. As Taylor was backing out of the driveway, his kids testified they saw the Jeep pulling into the driveway. They said Taylor moved his car, attempting to move out of the path of the Jeep. The children said the Jeep stopped slightly in front of the BMW’s front passenger side.

The children said they saw Henley jump out of the driver side of the Jeep and punched the hood of Taylor’s car. They said as Henley proceeded to make his way toward Taylor on the driver side, Henley punched the top of the car’s windshield. The children said Henley then punched Taylor’s driver side window. The 13-year-old mentioned Henley also tried to open Taylor’s door, but it was locked. As the kids were telling their father it was time to go, the young boy testified Taylor waved his gun at Henley. They said Henley then punched the driver window two more times before it broke. They said that’s when Taylor fired the gun at Henley. Investigators said three shots were fired, explaining in court Henley was hit once in the chest and twice near an armpit.

Taylor continued backing out of the driveway, the teens said in court, soon after the shots were fired. They said they watched Smith get out of the Jeep, kneel to hold Henley, then run inside the house. The children explained Taylor drove through back roads before ending up at a home in Paw Paw. The home belonged to an aunt of their half-siblings, but they said they were not fully aware of who the woman was. They said Taylor left his children and the BMW there, but they did not see him leave.

The 14-year-old said she called her uncle, who works at the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office. The woman agreed to meet their uncle at a local store so he could pick up the kids and the uncle took the kids to speak with an investigator at Michigan State Police to explain what happened.

The teen said she also drew a diagram of where the cars were parked in the driveway at the Gobles home when Taylor shot the gun. That diagram was presented to a judge during the hearing.

Before the hearing began, Taylor entered the courtroom and saw his wife, Kristina Taylor. He said, “I love you,” to her. During recess, Taylor turned to the victim’s family and said, “I’m sorry.”

Three officials from the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office also took the stand, as well as an investigator from Michigan State Police.

When the testimony concluded, the court ruled that there was enough evidence to send Taylor to trial on an open murder charge.

Taylor was arrested five days after the shooting, and was charged with one count of open murder and one count of felony firearms. Bond was set at $3 million.

Taylor’s wife, Kristina, has said that he fired in self-defense.

The case is scheduled to return to court September 4.

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