MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — It was the day of the annual Christmas party for the employees at Steve Dyas Motors. Workers stayed at the office a few minutes late waiting on a man who was supposed to come to pay for a car. Those workers never made it to the Christmas party that night. This is the story of Jarrod Taylor.
WKRG News 5 is looking back at the crimes that shocked the Gulf Coast. Jarrod Taylor’s story is the thirteenth in the series.
According to FindLaw, the story begins on the morning of Dec. 12, 1997. Jarrod Taylor, 26 at the time, took a .380 caliber gun from a friend of his. His friend Kenyatta McMillan was with him when he took the gun and proceeded to go with him to a nearby Walmart to buy a BB pellet pistol.
After leaving Walmart, the two men went to Steve Dyas Motors in Mobile with the intention of robbing it. Taylor decided he would pretend to be interested in purchasing a Ford Mustang from the used car dealership.
Taylor first interacted with Sherry Gaston, who was a salesperson at the dealership. He told Gaston that he was from Louisiana and that his father-in-law would be purchasing the car for him as a Christmas gift. Taylor attempted to negotiate the purchase of the car with Gaston.
McMillan and Taylor then spent the day test-driving the car and filling out paperwork in order to purchase the car. The car was priced at $13,700 and the men spent part of the day waiting for the made-up father-in-law to bring the money. Witnesses claimed the two men came and went multiple times throughout the day.
As it started to get later in the evening, employees at the dealership started to leave to get ready for their work Christmas party. It was around dusk when the two men entered the car dealership for the last time. Gaston had been waiting on Taylor to return with the money for the car. Her husband, Bruce Gaston and the owner of the car dealership, Steve Dyas, were also there waiting with her.
When Taylor and McMillan entered the office, Taylor immediately shot Bruce in the chest. Bruce fell to the floor and Sherry ran to the bathroom and locked herself in. Steve ran to the back room and tried to escape through a window. McMillan stopped Steve and brought him back into the main office at gunpoint.
Taylor and McMillian aggressively demanded to know where the safe was while Steve tried to explain to the men that there was not a safe and they did not keep money in the office. Steve offered them his personal credit cards and any car they wanted. Steve was on his knees begging for his life when Taylor stuck the gun to Steve’s head and shot him, which killed him instantly.
Taylor went to the bathroom door and forced Sherry to come out. She came out of the bathroom while pleading with Taylor to not kill her. She allegedly told the men that she was a mother of two kids that needed her, but Taylor didn’t seem to care, as he shot her in the head, which also killed her instantly.
At this point, the two men started to go through everything at the dealership, leaving with Sherry’s purse and both men’s wallets. They also took the paperwork that Sherry had worked up to make it look like Taylor had bought the car.
The men were getting ready to leave when they noticed Bruce start moving. When they realized he was still alive, Taylor walked over to him and shot him in the head in an attempt to make sure he was dead. They then took the car and drove to Selma, where police arrested them the next day.
McMillan was the state’s main witness against Taylor. He took a plea deal and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Taylor was sentenced to death on March 9, 2001.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the state withdrew a request for an execution date for Taylor after he was able to produce evidence that ADOC had lost his designation form. This was due to the option to be killed by nitrogen hypoxia.