LUMBERTON -- A Superior Court judge put the criminal proceedings against a suspended sheriff's deputy on hold Monday until a potential conflict of interest between the deputy's lawyer and the attorney for a state's witness can be resolved.
Superior Court Judge Frank Floyd ruled that sheriff's Lt. Roger Taylor and David Wilkins, who is expected to testify for the state, must sign a waiver stating there is no conflict of interest because they are represented by attorneys from the same law firm. Taylor is represented by Sue Berry, and Wilkins is represented by Woodrow Bowen.
Taylor, 33, was charged in September with two felony counts of obstruction of justice and felony conspiracy to obstruct justice. District Attorney Johnson Britt asked the court to determine whether there was a conflict of interest on Monday.
If the waivers are not signed and Floyd determines there is a conflict of interest, then Taylor might have to get another lawyer.
"It's an effort to deprive Roger Taylor of his counsel of choice," Berry said. "Mr. Wilkins has no first-hand knowledge of the charges against Roger Taylor."
In an effort to convince Floyd to strike Britt's motion, Berry said "there is absolutely no evidence in this record that is a conflict."
Floyd said if the waivers are signed, all parties will be called to appear in January, when he will determine if the case can move forward. Berry told the court that Taylor had already signed the waiver, but the case is on hold until Wilkins signs his waiver.
Taylor's next court date was set for Jan. 12.
The charges against Taylor originated from a home-invasion in November 2001 in the Red Springs area. Sgt. James Woodrow "J.W." Jacobs, 44, is also charged with felony obstruction of justice and felony conspiracy to obstruct justice in the incident.
Sheriff Glenn Maynor has since suspended both men without pay.
Taylor and Jacobs are charged with allowing a convicted felon, Scott LaClaire, to possess a handgun as a part of a sting operation that resulted in the arrest of three people. LaClaire was an undercover informant.
Jimmy Scott Locklear, Christopher George Lowery and Wilkins were charged with felony conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor impersonating a law enforcement officer. Britt said he expects all three men to testify against Taylor.
Taylor is charged with trying to cover-up LaClaire's role in the sting by concealing the 9mm handgun.
Taylor and Jacobs share an obstruction charge from their alleged efforts to conceal the seizure and recovery of the handgun. Taylor's additional obstruction charge originates from a story that lawmen say he fabricated while being interviewed by a State Bureau of Investigation agent who was working the case.