The Journal Gazette
Friday, October 22, 2021 1:00 am

Teen's guilty plea ends murder trial

Woman slain in car; admission comes day after jury seated

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

One of two teens accused of killing a young 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 18-year-old Dominique Taylor. She was shot Dec. 22, 2019, in a car at Villa Capri Apartments & Townhomes on South Anthony Boulevard.

A jury was chosen Tuesday for James' trial. He pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon and 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 Chevrolet 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 documents.

The witness said she was there to meet a friend and saw two males standing by the car. Police later found shell casings 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 he described as a “highly known person in Fort Wayne for shooting at people,” fired the fatal shots and threatened James' life if he snitched on him.

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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