Local News

Raleigh police chief: Taylor not being targeted

Posted March 17, 2010

— Raleigh's police chief said Wednesday that a request to test Gregory Taylor's clothing isn't meant to target him but is a new attempt to solve the murder he was wrongly convicted of in 1993.

Taylor, 47, served nearly 17 years in prison before a special three-judge panel last month vacated his sentence after finding that new evidence was clear and convincing beyond a reasonable doubt that he was innocent in the 1991 murder of Jacquetta Thomas.

“The three-judge panel’s declaration of Mr. Gregory Taylor’s innocence is final and not being disputed," police Chief Harry Dolan said in a statement Wednesday.

Taylor's attorney, Christine Mumma, who also serves as executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, granted permission for the testing but expressed concern Tuesday about why.

"I don't understand what their explanation could be, except for their own doubts about his innocence," she said.

Dolan said he has reopened the case and that a team of detectives wants to test all evidence using science and technology not available in the early 1990s.

"The Raleigh Police Department will need everyone’s cooperation as we conduct a complete and comprehensive reinvestigation of the murder," he said. "Ms. Thomas and her family deserve no less."

Police found Thomas, 29, dead at the end of a Raleigh cul-de- sac in September 1991 and arrested Taylor within hours, after he went to retrieve his SUV from some nearby woods.

Over the years, Taylor exhausted all avenues for appeal. Last year, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission recommended his case be reviewed after his attorneys introduced evidence not considered in his trial.

Among that evidence was a revelation that an SBI agent failed to report that a test for blood on Taylor's SUV was negative. Prosecutors have said that could have resulted in a different outcome of the case.

Taylor also testified during the hearing to seeing someone in the area where Thomas' body was found, but investigators never followed up on that information.

In a letter Tuesday to Raleigh Police Department attorney Ashby Ray, she said she has offered to share information she has about the case with investigators.

"We have developed theories over the years we would like to share with RPD," she told WRAL News.

Dolan's statement was cold comfort to Thomas' sister, Yolanda Littlejohn of Garner, who told The Associated Press the police did not contact the family about the plans to reopen the case or even after her sister died.

"Instead of moving forward to find her killer, they're going backwards to test the clothing," she said Wednesday. "That's not in the best interest of us."

Despite her reservations, Littlejohn said she supported the overall idea of reopening the investigation of her sister's murder. "I do believe a good investigation can be done," she said.


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  • itsmyownopinion Mar 18, 2010

    "6. Is it remotely possible he did do it?"
    March 18, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    If he did it, why would he have been asking for his clothing to be tested when he was still in prison trying to get a new trial?
    Some of us are protesting the current planned testing and he is saying to go ahead. It's hard to believe he would be all right with the testing and even ask for it earlier if he were guilty.

  • forensics Mar 18, 2010

    OK, Here's some input from a forensics person.

    1. DNA testing for forensics was in its infancy when he was arrested and convicted. An awful lot has changed.

    2. When you reopen an old case, you must take a fresh look at everything there is. No one knows what the testing will show. Maybe Taylor had contact with the killer and a new DNA profile will point them in the right direction. Taylor may have had no idea that a person he had contact with was the killer.

    3. The first thing that will happen if different person is arrested and Taylor's clothes were not examined would be that the defense would say "Why didn't you examine all of the evidence? You do sloppy work!"

    4. Back then, the clothes would have been examined for blood and body fluids. If visible stains were not present, the DNA technology of the time would not work.

    5. Back then, we were not allowed to submit everything for DNA. We had to choose the "best" evidence.

    6. Is it remotely possible he did do it?

  • ConcernedNCC Mar 18, 2010

    “The three-judge panel’s declaration of Mr. Gregory Taylor’s innocence is final and not being disputed," police Chief Harry Dolan said in a statement Wednesday.

    That's why we're asking to test the clothes of someone we now know is innocent...duh...yeah, that's it!

  • weasleyes Mar 17, 2010

    Both Ford and Deaver should have to serve some time. Before you send anyone to prison, you shoud be ABSOLUTELY certain!

  • rescuefan Mar 17, 2010

    "Stand by to be bashed by those whose level of thinking is to assume this is a playground pay back instead of an investigative process.

    This is the second time you have said this. You must be feeling bitter about the responses you got on the other thread. Maybe it was your approach?

    Funny, they had plenty of time to test his clothing for DNA, but only decided to do it once he was exonerated. Nope, no sour grapes there!

  • thepeopleschamp Mar 17, 2010

    "Dear amateur detectives, his clothing must be tested again if they are to test ALL evidence. Failure to test his clothing would be negligent on their part. If a new suspect were to be developed then that person's defense could argue that Taylor's clothing wasn't tested and therefore he could still be a suspect despite the court's findings." White Devil

    Dear White Devil, how dare you make a post that has reason and logic. The easy thing to do is say that this is "sour grapes, harassment, picking on him, etc...". Stand by to be bashed by those whose level of thinking is to assume this is a playground pay back instead of an investigative process.

  • JoCoLoco Mar 17, 2010

    No- he's not being targeted, the state's just hoping to save some money.

  • 5Rs Mar 17, 2010

    Where is the investigation of what went wrong with the investigation? Not to be a witch hunt, but what could have been done differently to arrive at a better conclusion? There are things to be learned from this travesty.

  • liskm Mar 17, 2010

    Did these clowns test the victims clothing at all/ever? Just asking. If not, need to do so also.
    I'd definitely have concern however on cross contamination in this case.
    I would find it difficult to think that if he were guilty of the murder, he'd be stupid enough to return to the scene the next AM (just to retrieve a stuck vehicle).
    Not saying I condone what he was doing in his life then. School of hard knocks in a lessoned learned and beyond I believe.

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 17, 2010

    Sorry, folks, in addition to using the word honesty/honest twice, I ran out of characters space, so here's the rest:

    "At Ford's urging, the agent who took those notes, Duane Deaver, was called to testify before innocence commission's eight members. But Deaver's testimony was confusing, and at one point, he even denied he'd done a second test.

    Deaver did not immediately return messages left Wednesday at home and work."