Saylor guilty of first-degree murder in shooting outside Hellam Twp. bar
A Windsor man is facing life in prison after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Chad Merrill outside a Hellam Township bar.
It took about 45 minutes for jurors to find James Saylor, 25, guilty of first- and third-degree murder, harassment, ethnic intimidation and accidents involving damage to a vehicle on Thursday, Sept. 26.
"While I respect the jury's verdict, I disagree with it," Saylor's attorney, George Margetas, said.
He said Saylor was so drunk that he has no memory of the night Merrill died.
"Someone will definitely be filing an appeal that is on behalf of Mr. Saylor," Margetas said.
Merrill, 25, of Lower Windsor Township, was fatally shot outside the Red Rose Restaurant during the early morning hours of July 21, 2018.
Saylor had been using racial slurs against a black man at the bar and was kicked out, according to authorities. Merrill, the man's friend, was fatally shot by Saylor outside the bar, according to police.
First deputy district attorney Seth Bortner told jurors during his opening statements Monday that Saylor arrived at the Red Rose Restaurant at 5370 Lincoln Highway about 12:40 a.m. July 21, 2018, by himself.
"Essentially James Saylor went to do two things: Have some drinks and start some fights," he said.
Merrill's friend Jerrell Grandison-Douglas came in shortly after Saylor and sat at the bar, according to Bortner.
Saylor then said, "Since when do we let (n—s) into the bar?" Bortner told jurors. Grandison-Douglas tried to calm things down and offered to buy Saylor a drink, but Saylor did not want that, according to Bortner.
Bar staff then removed Saylor from the bar, and Merrill, who was sitting near Grandison-Douglas, went up to Grandison-Douglas and comforted him, Bortner said.
Bortner said Saylor was in the parking lot and almost got in the wrong vehicle. Saylor pulled his gun out of his waistband and fired a shot at the building while he walked to his actual car, he said.
Saylor got into his truck, backed it up and shot Merrill, who had walked outside, according to Bortner.
"He shoots him from ... mere feet away," Bortner said.
Saylor then hit a vehicle driven by an Uber driver before fleeing the scene, Bortner said.
Margetas said he was shocked by the verdict, and he expected the jury to find Saylor guilty of third-degree murder, which would be a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
He said the prosecution contended that Saylor had intent to kill Merrill when Merrill approached Saylor's truck.
"He legitimately does not remember doing it," Margetas said. "He blacked out."
Saylor's attorney has said Saylor had been drinking since early in the afternoon the day before.
Merrill's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 30.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.