Raleigh, N.C. — A three-judge panel will hear evidence in February that could free a Cary man from prison, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ordered Tuesday.
The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission decided in September that Gregory Taylor, who was convicted of killing a prostitute and has served 16 years in prison, should get a new hearing in the case.
That hearing is scheduled to be held at Campbell Law School, 225 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh, beginning at 10 a.m. Feb. 9, Stephens said.
Taylor is serving time for the 1991 stabbing and beating death of 26-year-old Jacquetta Thomas, who worked as a prostitute. He has maintained his innocence throughout.
The state innocence commission unanimously decided to refer his case to a new trial after hearing testimony that included statements from another inmate, Craig H. Taylor, who confessed to killing Thomas.
Craig Taylor, who is serving time as a habitual felon and drug dealer, told an investigator that he hit Thomas in the face and beat her to death with a bat. The two men share a last name but are not related.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, who will prosecute the case, has said he is "skeptical" about the claim and noted in a court filing that Craig Taylor has confessed to more than 70 homicides that have been "neither reliable nor credible as demonstrated by the facts."
Since the commission’s decision, Willoughby’s office has been reviewing evidence in the case and the full transcript of the Innocence Commission hearing.
Greg Taylor's family and supporters, meanwhile, have called for his immediate release.
The panel will include Judge Howard Manning, a Superior Court judge based in Wake County, as well as Tonya Wallace, a Superior Court judge in Rockingham County, and Calvin Murphy, a judge in Mecklenburg County.