Opening statements in the trial over the murder of off-duty Chicago police Officer Thomas Wortham IV were delayed Wednesday after a defendant changed his mind and opted for a jury trial.
Toyious Taylor and Paris McGee were set to start simultaneous bench and jury trials Wednesday, but Taylor, much to the public disappointment of Judge Tim Joyce, decided he too wanted a jury to decide his fate.
Judge Joyce verbally reprimanded Taylor in court, saying that time and resources spent on preparing the bench trial could have been used more efficiently.
“We could have used the time in a different way than preparing for a bench trial,” he said.
While dismissing the jury already selected for McGee, Joyce apologized for the “snafu” and continued with jury selection for Taylor’s case. Trials for both men are expected to begin Thursday.
Thomas Wortham IV, 30, was killed May 19, 2010, in front of his parents' South Side home as he tried to stop four men from stealing his motorcycle. He had recently completed his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Earlier this year, Wortham’s parents settled a lawsuit with a Mississippi gun shop that sold the gun used to kill their son to a straw buyer. Ed's Pawn Shop & Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Miss. agreed to increased vigilance on gun sales.
"Our son survived the battlefields of Iraq, but could not survive the streets of his hometown, and nothing can undo that tragic fact," Carolyn Wortham said. "I know that Tommy would have wanted me to fight so that other families would be spared the tragedy ours has suffered."