New trial sought in murder of State Board of Ed member
Posted April 30, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Two years after he received a life sentence for the rape and beating death of North Carolina state school board member, a Raleigh man has appealed his conviction and is seeking a new trial.
Jason Williford was convicted of the March 6, 2010, attack on Kathy Taft, who died three days after she was beaten in her sleep at the Raleigh home of a friend.
Williford argues in his appeal that police violated his rights by using a discarded cigarette butt to test for DNA to link him to the crime. He had already declined investigators' request for a DNA sample and maintains that they went on his property without a warrant to pick up the cigarette butt.
Because defense attorneys couldn't keep the DNA evidence out of the trial, they argued that a variety of mental disorders, including alcohol dependency, depression and impulse control disorder, along with a night of drinking and prescription drug abuse factored into Williford’s behavior on the night of the attack.
Prosecutors never denied Williford suffered from mental disorders but said his actions were calculated.