CHARLES TOWN — A Maryland man will spend the rest of his life in prison for fatally shooting 28-year-old Taylor Pond in her downtown Charles Town apartment in August 2019.
Pond was drawn into a quarrel between Lansdowne and another woman Lansdowne was having a romantic relationship with, according to a Charles Town police investigation.
A jury convicted Elliott DeJohn Lansdowne, 29, of Jefferson, Md., of first-degree murder and using a firearm during the commission of a felony after a four-day trial in Jefferson County Circuit Court that ended last Thursday. The jury declined to recommend mercy in its murder verdict, a decision that condemns Lansdowne to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lansdowne and Pond knew each other before the shooting, police said. He “claimed he was ‘triggered’” into shooting Pond after a disparaging remark she made to him during a conversation outside the North West Street apartment building where she lived, according to a police investigation and a press release issued by Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Harvey.
Pond made the remark — that Lansdowne would never be a good father — shortly after he had argued with another woman living in the same apartment, according to a Charles Town police investigation. The other woman, a friend of Pond, thought she was pregnant with Lansdowne’s child, police said, and the argument was over whether she would keep the baby or put it up for adoption.
Lansdowne wanted the woman to keep the baby, police said.
Pond made the remark when she and Lansdowne talked and smoked together on a porch outside the apartment building after the argument. The shooting occurred after Pond returned to the porch to give Lansdowne a sweatshirt he left in the apartment building, a police detective said during a preliminary court hearing.
Lansdowne also reportedly told police he thought Pond had tossed the sweatshirt at him in a dismissive, disrespectful way, according to testimony during the preliminary hearing.
“The defendant followed her back into the building,” states Harvey’s press release issued after last week’s trial. “He threatened her, pulled out a handgun, cocked it and pursued her to her apartment door.”
Pond slammed her apartment door before Lansdowne could enter, but he shot at her through the door, police reported. The bullet he fired struck Pond in the head.
Lansdowne fled the apartment after the shooting and was driven to his parent’s Maryland home in Jefferson, where he was captured and arrested.
“The jury agreed with the state that the callousness of this crime and the defendant’s extensive criminal history warranted life in prison without the possibility of parole,” the prosecutor’s press release stated.
A third woman, 21-year-old Emma Marie Phillips of Bakerton, awaits trial on a felony charge of accessory after the fact for allegedly attempting to help Lansdowne escape to Maryland after the shooting.
Lansdowne’s sentencing on the firearm conviction is scheduled for Nov. 13 before Judge Debra McLaughlin, who presided over his trial.
Before the shooting, Pond worked as a supervisor at the CVS Pharmacy on West Washington Street, across the street from her apartment.
After the jury’s verdict, her family issued a statement thanking “God our Father,” the jury, the police and prosecutors involved in the case.
“Although this [jury verdict] doesn’t bring our Taylor back to us, this closed the tangible portion of the case for us by seeing justice served,” the family wrote.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Adam Ward and Greg Jones conducted the state’s case in court. Detective Alissa Meeks with the Charles Town Police Department led the investigation.