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Trial pushed back for man accused of trying to run over state senator

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A Portsmouth judge agreed to push back the trial for a man charged with trying to run over State Senator Louise Lucas with his SUV.

The trial for James Taliaferro was scheduled to begin Monday, but the judge agreed to push the case back because the prosecution asked for Taliaferro to undergo a second mental health evaluation. 

Taliaferro is facing charges of attempted first-degree murder, felony property damage and eluding police. 

He was arrested back in March and accused of smashing the front door of Lucas Lodge. Surveillance video shows an SUV ramming into the entrance. Taliaferro confessed he was the driver. 

Louise Lucas’s daughter, Portsmouth City Council Member Lisa Lucas-Burke said she and her mom followed the SUV to a nearby Family Dollar and started taking photos of the vehicle. Then, according to Lucas-Burke, Taliaferro recognized her mom and tried to run her over. 

James Taliaferro is a former employee of Lucas Lodge, which is run by Sen. Lucas. The lodge provides housing and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Taliaferro was fired after he reportedly failed a background check. 

On Monday his defense attorney told the judge his client had not been regularly taking his medication at the time he allegedly tried to kill Sen. Lucas. According to the defense, this is what largely contributed to the incident where he tried to run Lucas over with his SUV. 

Also on Monday, the defense asked the judge to reconsider granting bond to Taliaferro since he’s been in jail for six months now and is entitled to a presumption of innocence. The judge denied the request citing Taliaferro’s mental state and the importance of victims’ safety. 

The trial is set to continue October 4.

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