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Officer testifies on arrest of Wendy’s suspect

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The officer who arrested John Taylor, the accused mastermind of the murders of five Flushing Wendy’s workers in May 2000, testified about apprehending the suspect in Bayshore, L.I., two days after the massacre.

Officer Chris Krutcher of Bay Shore’s 3rd Precinct retraced the steps leading up to the May 26, 2000 arrest of Taylor in Bay Shore at an evidence hearing before State Supreme Court Justice Stephen Fisher in Kew Gardens. The pretrial phase is expected to last for about a month.

Taylor, 37, of Elmhurst is charged with murdering five Wendy’s employees and attempting to kill two others on May 24, 2000.

According to a supplemental indictment filed in May, Taylor, who had been fired from the Flushing Wendy’s in October 1999, instructed Craig Godineaux, a 31-year-old Jamaica man, to shoot the workers execution-style. Godineaux, who was found to be mentally retarded, pleaded guilty to murdering the five workers in January and was sentenced to life in prison.

Betsy Herzog, a spokeswoman for the DA, said Krutcher’s testimony would help determine whether bags seized by police at the scene of Taylor’s arrest could be allowed into evidence.

Krutcher described being called to a residence in Bay Shore with his partner Michael Grasso, just after reporting for duty at 4 p.m. on May 26. According to his testimony, Krutcher met up with Detective Sgt. Tom Groneman, also of Bay Shore’s 3rd Precinct, at Maddox Industry, an industrial building a block away from the residence.

There Groneman showed him a photo of Taylor and told him to find and identify him at the specified address, where a boy had been reported injured on a 911 call, said Krutcher.

At the address, Krutcher and Grasso spotted Taylor standing outside by one of the pillars of the entrance to the two-story house.

“The defendant was very nervous and anxious,” Krutcher testified. “As we approached the defendant, his eyes were bouncing around.”

Krutcher said he asked Taylor where the child was located. Taylor led Krutcher and Grasso to the second-floor apartment of the building, where they found a boy with an injury to his thigh surrounded by a screaming mother, another man, and several other children, said Krutcher.

“The mother was frantic, running about,” the sergeant said.

Krutcher said he asked for the child’s name, and Taylor told him it was Benjamin Taylor. A girl in the room then corrected Taylor, saying the boy’s name was Benjamin McDonald, said Krutcher.

At that point, Krutcher said he thought Taylor was indeed the man he was looking for.

“I said to Mike: ‘Is it positive to you?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah,’” said Krutcher.

Krutcher then related how he headed downstairs to radio Groneman, asking him what to do.

“I told him he was Taylor, everything looks fine. What do you want us to do?” said Krutcher.

After a conversation with other police officers, Groneman told Krutcher to go ahead and arrest Taylor, said Krutcher.

Krutcher said he then returned upstairs, asked to speak to Taylor for a moment outside with Grasso, and then handcuffed Taylor. Several other officers then entered the building and took Taylor away, said Krutcher.

“Mr. Taylor was whisked away,” said Krutcher. “My first instinct was: “I want my handcuffs back.’”

Krutcher said he went back upstairs, searched the apartment, and watched as ambulance workers came to take Benjamin McDonald.

Although Krutcher had heard about the Wendy’s shootings on the news, he said that he did not think to make an arrest until he received the proper order.

Groneman described the surveillance set up to monitor Taylor and explained how he removed a knife and a gun from Taylor after the arrest.

Groneman testified that he was not aware of a warrant out for Taylor at the time he told Krutcher and Grasso to arrest him.

Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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