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Sentence in '15 Decatur murder hinges on other defendants
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Sentence in '15 Decatur murder hinges on other defendants

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DECATUR — Daiquan D. Cline is ready to receive a 20-year sentence for the murder of a Decatur woman. Maybe.

Cline, 18, is being held in the Macon County Jail and has already pleaded guilty to being involved with three other teens in the shooting death and robbery of 21-year-old Cesley Taylor on Sept. 7, 2015.

But a plea deal involves him testifying against another defendant in the case, Ryan H.J. O'Neal, who is still awaiting a bench trial before Judge Thomas E. Griffith, now set for Dec 19.

Cline appeared in Macon County Circuit Court on Wednesday with his defense attorney, Edwin K. Piraino, who said his client was happy to wait and happy with his plea agreement. But, Piraino said, he wanted to keep Cline's options open, depending on the sentencing of other defendants. Cline's sentencing was moved to Dec. 21.

A hallmark of the legal process so far, which also involves Shaitan L. Cook, Jr., and Darion L. Evans, both age 18, and all charged with murder, has been the interpretation of legal rules covering sentence severity. Adults who kill with a firearm, for example, face a 25-year add-on to their prison terms upon conviction. 

All of the defendants were 16 the day they allegedly went to Taylor's northside apartment, 1450 E. Wellington Way, to rob her and her roommate, Britney N. Wilson, then 20 years old. Wilson survived multiple gunshot wounds.

Based on recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, judges have been told to look deeper into murder cases involving juveniles, weighing factors such as background and history carefully before sentencing.

Griffith is mulling this issue over in the case of Evans. Prosecutors have pushed for a sentence of 45 years, with Evans serving 100 percent. Evans has pleaded not guilty, but a plea deal had been in the works. Griffith is due to outline his thinking on this case at a Nov. 2 hearing. Cook, is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing Nov. 20.

“We do have some 'ifs' and some 'ands' involved where something would blow up ... and to where my client would have an option (of) doing a couple of other things,” Piraino told Griffith in a reference to sentencing options for Cline based on the outcomes for fellow defendants.

“I don't anticipate that to happen — he's happy, I am happy and the (prosecution) counsel has been fantastic, but sometimes life ... you never know what is going to happen.”


Photos: 2018 mug shots from the Herald & Review

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