Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission held a preliminary hearing Friday in the case of Greg Taylor, a Cary man convicted in the 1991 stabbing and beating death of Jacquetta Thomas.
The case goes before the three-judge panel on Feb. 9, and is expected to last three days.
The commission is a state agency that investigates and evaluates post-conviction claims of factual innocence. It only examines new evidence that was not considered at trial.
In September, the commission unanimously decided to refer his case to the panel for a hearing – not a trial – after 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, 26, in the face and beat her to death with a bat.
Greg Taylor, who is not related to Craig Taylor, has served 16 years in prison for the crime, and has maintained his innocence. His conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. DNA testing wasn't available at the time. Evidence has since been tested and the results have been inconclusive.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby on Friday called Craig Taylor "a flawed witness" because he has confessed to more than 70 homicides that have been false.
"I think the theory (Greg Taylor's attorneys) are going on is if they could retry this case today and get certain evidence admitted that may be questionable, maybe there would be come reasonable doubt about this person's guilt," Willoughby said. "But that is not the test. The test is: Is this person innocent?"
Greg Taylor's family and supporters, meanwhile, have called for his immediate release.
"My dad is not a murderer. There is no doubt ever in my mind," Greg Taylor's daughter, Kristen Puryear said Friday. "He is the nicest, most genuine person. There is not a violent bone in his body. He did not do this."