CHARLESTON, SC (WMBF) – A man accused of being involved in the 2009 disappearance of Brittanee Drexel will be in federal court in Charleston on Wednesday for a change of plea hearing in reference to a 2011 robbery he has already served time for.
According to court records, attorneys for Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor filed a motion on July 7 to dismiss the federal indictment against their client on the grounds that "his rights under the double jeopardy, due process, and cruel and unusual punishment clauses of the United States Constitution have been violated by the subsequent indictment and prosecution of him in federal court for the same offense and on the same underlying facts as his previous state court conviction."
Taylor reportedly confessed to being the getaway driver in the September 2011 armed robbery of a Mount Pleasant McDonald's. Two other suspects, Joseph Whiteside and Deron Moultrie, were also sentenced in connection with the crime.
In its response to the motion to dismiss, federal prosecutors said they learned of Taylor's involvement in the robbery and subsequent punishment while investigating a separate crime – "the abduction and murder of a teenage girl in the Myrtle Beach and McClellanville areas."
Last summer, an FBI agent testified in open court that Drexel was abducted, gang-raped at a "stash house" in the McClellanville area, shot after trying to escape, and then her body was fed to alligators.
A jailhouse informant accused Taylor and his father, Shaun Taylor, of being directly involved in Drexel's murder, according to the agent's testimony.
Taylor has denied killing Drexel. At present, no one has been charged in her disappearance.
While investigating the Drexel case, "further inquiries into the details of the robbery indicated that the defendant's penalty was far below what his co-defendants received, particularly given his level of involvement, which justified a subsequent federal prosecution," according to the response to the motion to dismiss based on double jeopardy grounds, which was filed on Tuesday. "Despite agreeing to plead guilty, the defendant has filed this motion seeking to have his indictment dismissed on double jeopardy grounds. The government anticipates that the change of plea will go forward once this issue is resolved."
Taylor's attorneys said allowing the federal prosecution to go forward is an "abuse of the dual sovereignty doctrine and the concept of double jeopardy."
The prosecution noted that the double jeopardy clause would ordinarily prevent a person from being prosecuted twice for the same crime. However, they argue in their response that the dual sovereignty doctrine does not bar prosecution if the charges are brought by "separate sovereigns."
A message left for Taylor's attorney was not immediately returned.
Read the full motion to dismiss and the government's response below: