Local News

Death penalty sought in slaying of state education official

Posted December 16, 2010

— Prosecutors said Thursday that they plan to seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing State Board of Education member Kathy Taft.

Taft, 62, of Greenville, died on March 9 from a fractured skull and extensive brain damage resulting from an attack three days earlier in a west Raleigh home.

She was recovering from plastic surgery at a friend's home on Cartier Drive when she was raped and beaten repeatedly on the head with a blunt object, according to an autopsy report.

Jason Keith Williford, 30, of 2812-D Wayland Drive, was arrested April 16 and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape in the case. Investigators have said they do not believe the two knew each other.

Sources told WRAL News that Williford, who lives less than a quarter-mile from the Cartier Drive home where Taft was attacked, refused to provide DNA to police when they canvassed the area. That made investigators suspicious, so officers followed him for a while and picked up one of his discarded cigarette butts, sources said.

The cigarette butt was then sent to the State Bureau of Investigation crime lab for testing, and the DNA found on it gave police probable cause to arrest Williford and search his apartment, sources said.

Police also have searched two e-mail accounts used by Williford and two of his laptops, looking for any evidence that he visited Internet sites or viewed photos of sexual assaults. They also searched for any files referring to Taft.

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  • Vietnam Vet Dec 17, 6:38 p.m.

    All I can say is...IT'S ABOUT TIME!!! How many deserving felons have we seen lately where there has been a plea bargain or the prosecutor "declined to seek the death penalty." Frankly that is a phrase that I'm sick and tired of hearing.

  • dixieboy Dec 17, 1:26 p.m.

    Life in prison without parole is a death penalty. It just makes some people feel better keep building prisons.

  • Just another bad guy Dec 17, 11:33 a.m.

    OK guys. As a compromise, how about life in prison without parole...and without food.

  • Just another bad guy Dec 17, 11:18 a.m.

    Unfortunately, the costs of the death penalty appeals process can cost taxpayers more than keeping someone in a cell until, inevitably, the end result is the same.

    If someone has been convicted of murder on undeniable evidence such as being caught on video, DNA, or an un-coerced admission, then the appeals process should be negated. This would quicken many executions while allowing those who maintain their innocence the right to the appeals process as it exists.

  • wildcat Dec 17, 11:15 a.m.

    Not a supporter of the death penalty. Killing another person because they killed makes you what, when you kill this person. Another murderer. Life would be better; a lot better.

  • wildcat Dec 17, 11:14 a.m.

    No death Penalty! Life in Prison without parole, ever.

  • Just another bad guy Dec 17, 11:11 a.m.

    I believe the Etheridge comment by citizen782 is simply saying that we've all witnessed an "assault" video on the internet and hopefully won't be held liable for our "crime".

  • rcrdngcountry Dec 17, 10:01 a.m.

    i am 100% for the death penalty, always been.KILL THE KILLERS.

  • jscletsplay1002002 Dec 17, 8:40 a.m.

    If I take the reasoning behind some of the posters here on GOLO.
    example = the patients that got killed at that rest home, people were saying the home should not have to pay for the funerals of the patients, because they were old and they were going to die soon.

    How about using that analogy to this story and because of her age, she was 62, she was possible going to die soon. The guy who murdered her shouldnt have to get the death penalty?

    That isnt my thought on the matter, Its just the pattern of GOLO member postings. Go figure!

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Dec 17, 8:38 a.m.

    We do have to hope that the new Conservative-led State Legislators will get the ball rolling to reinstate the Death Penalty in North Carolina. And unfortunately, it will take the murder case of a popular person to get that going.

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