Murder trial begins Tuesday in Van Buren County fatal shooting, multi-state manhunt


PAW PAW, Mich. - Jury selection begins Tuesday in the murder trial of a Van Buren County man accused in a deadly shooting and a multi-state manhunt in the summer of 2018.

Taylor, 38, is accused of shooting and killing Timothy Henley, 40, on June 21 in Gobles.

According to investigators, Taylor shot and killed Henley in the driveway of a Pine Grove home after getting into an argument with Henley and his ex-wife Martina Smith.

According to Taylor’s two children, the incident started when Smith was late returning to the Gobles home where she lived with her mother and two children. Taylor’s children testified in a preliminary hearing in August they tried contacting Smith several times but she did not respond. Taylor waiting at the home with his children for hours until they noticed a car that looked like Smith’s Jeep pull into a public access near their home.

According to testimony, Taylor and his children then drove to the public access, and parked several feet behind the Jeep. 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.

Taylor and his children returned to the Gobles home and the teens packed bags to stay overnight with Taylor.

When they tried to leave the home, Taylor's daughter testified that Henley pulled into the driveway, got out of the Jeep and began punching Taylor’s car. She said 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's 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 claimed he opened fire in self-defense.

Taylor dropped his children off with a family friend, and Van Buren County deputies said he went on the run for five days, spending some time in Indiana and Michigan. After a five-day manhunt, Taylor was arrested in White Pigeon and charged with murder.

The trial in Henley's suspected murder will begin Tuesday in a Van Buren County court.

Last week, Taylor was sentenced to 180 days in jail after pleading guilty to two charges stemming from a 2017 arrest: running from police and maintaining a drug house.

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