‘Christmas will never be the same’: Victim’s family still mourns as killer receives 80-year sentence


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Friday, in Allen County Superior Court, Senaca James, 18, learned his fate.

80-years behind bars for the killing of 18-year-old Dominique Taylor is the punishment Judge Fran Gull handed James. Dominque’s mother and sister said they are satisfied with the sentence, even if it doesn’t bring their Dominique back.

“You know he has time to sit in there and think about all of the things he’s done,” said Alexis Taylor, Dominque’s sister. “To know that he is put away and he’s not going to be out here causing more crime and heartache”

Photo Courtesy: Brandy Parish

December 22, 2019 Dominque was struck by gunfire around 10:30 p.m. in the Villa Capri Apartments complex, on Fox Point Trail southeast of the intersection of South Anthony Boulevard and Decatur Road.

According to a probable cause affidavit, there was a fight between a group of girls earlier that day. One of the girls was being asked to move out of an apartment. As a result, there was a dispute over the return of property and money.

Taylor and another girl went to the Villa Capri Apartments after “exchanging words” on social media with one of the girls.

James told police he was there when Dominque was shot. He said she was lured to the Villa Capri complex under the guise of buying marijuana edibles, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Photo Courtesy: Brandy Parish

James admitted to having a gun in his hands and firing shots in the air, court documents said. Dominque refused to get out of the car, though. James told police the crowd started saying “shoot her bro, shoot her.” Then someone took the gun from him and shot Dominque with it, the affidavit said.

“I want to say that I apologize for my actions, but I do take full responsibility,” James said in court before the sentencing.

Back in October, during his trial, James pleaded guilty to murder and using a firearm in the killing of Dominique that night.

“I don’t know if it was a strategic move on your part, but you did plea guilty and I accept that but I don’t weigh it terribly heavily,” Judge Fran Gull, the Chief Judge in Allen County Superior Court told James before announcing the sentence.

Judge Gull said the change of plea holds minimum weight because James confessed after 13-wintesses spoke against him. She said that she “has been on the bench for a minute,” adding that the shocking escalation of James’ conduct is frightening.

Dominique’s sister told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that strength is what is getting her through this dark cloud. Alexiss said Dominique was her baby sister and it still hurts that she wasn’t there to protect her. During her testimony, Alexiss told James “yes you took my sister’s physical form, but you haven’t taken her spiritual one.”

“If you knew Dominique, you know she is a bright light to every dark room,” Alexiss said. “Being her older sister, she brought the light to my life and now that she’s gone and not walking beside me, I am very dark inside.”

Dominque with her family during Christmas. Photo Courtesy: Brandy Parish

Dominque was killed a couple of days before Christmas. Brandy Parish, Dominque’s mother reflected on that night in the courtroom. In a tearful testimony, she explained while other parents were planning the holidays for her children, she was planning a funeral for hers.

“No parent expects to burry a child,” Parish said. “Here I am being asked about color coffins, flowers and stuff to burry my daughter. During a time where people are cheerful and happy, Christmas will never be the same for me. I will never be able to be joyful at Christmas time. It seems like when December comes it seems like my body starts trembling.”

Dominique’s gifts from that Christmas sat in the same place for months and months. Parish said she never wanted to accept the fact that her daughter was gone. After Dominique was killed, it took five days for the family to be able to see her body, due to the pending investigation.

Dawann L. Martin Jr., who was 15 at the time, is also charged with murder in the case. He’s set to stand trial in February.

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