A McClellanville-area man told the FBI he didn't know who had a hand in Brittanee Drexel's disappearance and had never seen the teenager in person.
But Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor showed deception when he answered those questions in a polygraph examination, federal prosecutors said this week in seeking to imprison the 26-year-old for up to two decades.
Their argument came as Taylor awaits a sentencing hearing on an unrelated robbery charge that the FBI pursued as he refused to reveal helpful details about Drexel's presumed abduction and about whether he or his family was involved.
The officials had already said Taylor failed the exam, but court filings added new details about the suspicions he reported developing when the accusations against his family emerged.
Mark Peper, a West Ashley defense attorney for Taylor, said the government's filing “completely mischaracterizes” plea negotiations in the case, which included polygraph exams.
The test Taylor was alleged to have failed also indicated he had lied about his own name, Peper said. Such exams, which can be flawed, are typically not admitted as evidence in court.
Civil rights groups have protested the hefty penalty Taylor faces as unfair.
"The truth is, (federal prosecutors are) getting heat — rightfully so — for forcing him to do 10 to 20 years on a prior robbery since there was nothing to squeeze out of him on Drexel," Peper said Friday.
Drexel, 17, went missing in 2009 as the New Yorker spent spring break in Myrtle Beach. A jailhouse informant reported Taylor and his father kidnapped Drexel and held her at a trap house, where she was gang raped and shot before her body was dumped into an alligator swamp, the FBI said.
Taylor and his family have denied the allegations.
After Taylor was implicated, federal authorities pursued a charge against him in the same Mount Pleasant McDonald's robbery for which he was already serving a state probationary sentence. They argued his penalty was light compared with accomplices in the heist.
His lawyers portrayed it as an effort to force details from Taylor of Drexel's case.
Instead of revealing any key evidence, Taylor stood by his innocence. Because he had already pleaded guilty in the state robbery case, he had no choice but to do so again in the federal one.
His plea agreement calls for a prison term of 10 to 20 years.
The federal prosecutors filed the paperwork this week ahead of a sentencing hearing likely to be scheduled in the coming weeks. The documents revealed Taylor had told the FBI about an argument he overheard in June 2016 between two people whose names were redacted from the records.
The quarrel was sparked by an accusation that someone had Drexel's cellphone.
"Taylor advised that neither of them ever confided to him that they were involved in Drexel's disappearance," the polygraph report stated, "but Taylor thought the argument was suspicious."
During the questioning, the filings added, Taylor continued to deny withholding any information and started “shouting angrily.”
The interview was ended.