Former boxing champion Jermain Taylor, making his first court appearance Thursday on felony domestic-violence charges, was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation at the request of prosecutors, who called into question his cognitive abilities.
Taylor, 40, is charged with aggravated assault on a family or household member, terroristic threatening and misdemeanor domestic battering stemming from his Aug. 29 arrest at his Little Rock home at 7412 Azalea Drive. The charges together carry a maximum of 20 years in prison.
He had been free on $15,000 bond since the day after the arrest, but was arrested again Wednesday after prosecutors moved to revoke the six-year suspended prison sentence he received in May 2016 after pleading guilty in a separate case to nine felony counts of second-degree battery, aggravated assault and terroristic threatening.
Those charges stemmed from a trio of arrests over a nine-month span between August 2014 and May 2015 for shooting his cousin in the leg, punching a fellow patient while in a drug rehabilitation center, and threatening a family in the presence of three children by shooting a pistol in the air at Little Rock's Martin Luther King Jr. parade.
On Thursday, Circuit Judge Leon Johnson ordered Taylor to be evaluated by doctors at the State Hospital and set Taylor's bail on the revocation petition at $10,000. He was released after posting bond.
The proceedings against Taylor cannot move forward until the issue of his fitness to stand trial is resolved. The judge gave state doctors until Feb. 11 to report their findings to him. The judge also ordered Taylor to have no contact with his accuser, Labiba Ahmed Higgins.
The 40-year-old woman described a jealous Taylor attacking her after she spoke to another man at the Azalea Drive home, police reports show.
The report said police, called to the house about a midafternoon disturbance, found Taylor outside with some friends. He would not speak with the officers, but did direct them to talk to "whoever was in his house," the report states.
"Higgins mouthed to officers 'Help me' while Taylor was still around," officer Alejandra Galvin reported. "Officers observed minor injuries to Higgins' chin, mouth, neck and right arm."
Higgins told investigators that she and Taylor had been outside drinking with their neighbors, but that she had left to get more alcohol. When she returned with the beverages, a man, unnamed in the report, thanked her and she replied, "Anytime."
In September, about a week after the disturbance, Higgins obtained a civil order of protection, which bars Taylor from contacting her for seven months.
In her sworn statement to the court, the North Little Rock woman described a 10-month relationship with Taylor that began in October 2017 and ended with his arrest.
Higgins stated that Taylor has threatened her life before and that he's also threatened to kill her teenage son.
"He got mad and said he will kill me," Higgins wrote. "This happens every time we have a verbal altercation. Has also threatened to put a bullet in my head and my 15-year-old son would be [second]."
In describing the events that led to Taylor's arrest, Higgins said in her statement to the court:
"He got mad and he strangled me and he hit my head against the wall over and over. He hit me in the leg with a closed fist. He slapped me on my face multiple times.
"He strangled [me] again until I was unconscious. He said, 'You deserve to die, b***h.'" He got the [machete] out of the case and walk [sic] towards me with it, and I begged him not to kill me. He stopped, put the knife down. He dragged me by my hair and started slapping me with an open hand. He was spitting on me."
Taylor's second wife, Lutza Gayot, also has accused Taylor of being abusive during their eight-month marriage, but her accusations never led to criminal charges.
Their divorce, initiated by Taylor, was final in May. Gayot and Taylor were married in August 2016. She filed for legal separation in June 2017, stating in her court petition for maintenance that Taylor's "physical abuse ... forced her to leave the marital home without any money or a vehicle."
She withdrew the petition in September 2017, and Taylor filed for divorce two months later under his full name, Lecester Taylor.
In her response, Gayot, then living in Brooklyn, N.Y., opposed the divorce, stating that Taylor was not able to make good decisions about his life. Her response also describes how she at least twice found Taylor living with other women, and how she and Taylor attempted several times to reconcile.
"The court should not validate this divorce nor grant this divorce to my husband who's in a serious need of treatment," she wrote in December 2017.
Metro on 11/09/2018
Print Headline: Mental testing ordered for boxer Jermain Taylor