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Attorneys say defendants’ lives affected after crash

By Sarah Nagem
snagem@salisburypost.com
The lives of the three young men who pleaded guilty Thursday in the death of a mo-ped rider will not be easy, their attorneys said.
Eric Taylor’s attorney, Darrin Jordan, said his client has suffered since Michael Brown’s death. Brown died May 12, 2006, after he wrecked his mo-ped. Some of the people in the Jeep Taylor was driving had thrown eggs at Brown before he wrecked.
Taylor had planned to attend N.C. State University before that night, Jordan said. But when the university learned of the pending charges in Rowan County, Jordan said, school officials told Taylor he couldn’t attend classes there.
“He suffered that punishment very early on, while the rest of these individuals proceeded to pursue their goals,” Jordan said.
Taylor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and felony hit and run.
When Taylor found out he couldn’t attend N.C. State, Jordan said, he briefly enrolled at Wake Tech in Raleigh.
But Taylor has suffered from anxiety and depression as a result of the mo-ped incident, Jordan said, and he couldn’t focus on his school work.
He moved back to Rowan to live with his father and enrolled in Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, but his problems continued, Jordan said.
Taylor started using alcohol to “self medicate,” Jordan said.
Jordan said Taylor has a girlfriend now and works four nights a week picking up garbage. His life is “a long way” from his original dreams of college, Jordan said.
Alstin Lee Vanderford, 21, also delayed his college plans, his attorney, James Davis, said. Vanderford, along with Taylor and 23-year-old Brandon Heathcliff Lowery, pleaded guilty to lesser charges Thursday and will avoid jail time. The three other young people who were in the Jeep that night struck
deals with the Rowan County district attorney and face misdemeanor
charges.
After the accident, Jordan said, Rachel Ann Miller and Patsy Elizabeth
Morgan, who are both 21 now, went on to attend college. Derek Talbert,
now 23, is a student at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
Vanderford had played basketball at East Rowan High School and went on to play basketball for a while at Pfeiffer University, Davis said.
He said Vanderford is holding down a job while attending Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
“He hopes ó hopes ó to get a college degree,” Davis said.
Vanderford already had a record before the May 2006 incident.
According to court documents, he received a prayer for judgment in 2004 when he was convicted of ethnic intimidation, a misdemeanor. Vanderford and three other teens had thrown water on a Wendy’s employee working the drive-through window. The teens directed racial slurs at the woman, who was black.
Then Vanderford was convicted in October 2006 of underage possession of a malt beverage, a misdemeanor.
Lowery also had a record. He was placed on probation for a misdemeanor assault charge. The incident occurred in September 2003.
Lowery’s attorney, James Randolph, said Thursday his client has suffered from depression and has lost about 40 pounds since Brown’s death.
“He had a hard time finding work,” Randolph said.
Lowery graduated from East Rowan High School in 2003 and worked various jobs, including construction with his father, Randolph said.
Now, Lowery lives in Mecklenburg County and is working at a salon in Charlotte. His mother helped him get the job, Randolph said.
Randolph said Lowery might lose his job ó he has to surrender his driver’s license after pleading guilty Thursday.
“I believe the only transportation available will be a mo-ped for them,” Randolph said of his client, Taylor and Vanderford.

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