ShareThis Page
Man takes stand to deny flipping woman to her death in a Pennsylvania river | TribLIVE.com
Regional

Man takes stand to deny flipping woman to her death in a Pennsylvania river

Associated Press
793577_web1_web-courts10

SCRANTON, Pa. — A man accused of hurling a woman to her death in a northeastern Pennsylvania river two years ago took the stand to deny that he was responsible and accuse police of lying about an alleged confession.

Ryan Taylor, 26, said Friday he blacked out after smoking synthetic marijuana with 28-year-old Danee Mower and several other people on the banks of the Lackawanna River in February 2017, the (Scranton) Times-Tribune reported. He said he had no idea that Mower lay face down, drowning, just a few feet away in a shallow area of the river.

“She passed me the joint and I apparently had a seizure,” Taylor said. “I had no reason to think she was in the river.”

Lackawanna County prosecutors allege that Taylor grabbed Mower by the ankles during an argument and flipped her into the water, where she died of drowning and hypothermia.

Prosecutors played phone calls between Taylor and relatives in which he repeatedly denied having pushed Mower into the river. In one, he said she “fell off a cliff” and he grabbed her to try to save her but couldn’t hold on. He also said he alerted someone to call 911. Asked about the conflict between his phone conversations and his testimony and that of witnesses, Taylor said he was following the advice of “jail house lawyers” who suggested he tell family he tried to save Mower.

Taylor also disputed the testimony of Scranton detectives who said he confessed. Asked under cross-examination by prosecutors whether the detectives were lying, he said “Yes.”

Defense attorney Matthew Comerford has argued that even if jurors in the first- and third-degree murder trial decide that Taylor did what is alleged, Mower should have easily been able to escape the waist-deep water if not for her medical history and drug use. Comerford called a forensic pathologist to testify that Mower’s drowning was accidental caused in part by medical conditions that left her in a weakened state, a conclusion that drew an incredulous reaction from Deputy District Attorney Sara Varela.

“She’s drowning and the second she hits the water, her Hepatitis C kicks in?” Varela said. “That’s the same as a cancer victim being shot in the head and saying cancer is a contributing factor.”

Categories: News | Top Stories | Regional
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.