Local News

Trial date set for March in state school official's slaying

Posted July 20, 2011

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A Raleigh man accused of killing State Board of Education member Kathy Taft last year will tentatively go on trial March 5 – almost two years to the day of her death – a judge ruled Wednesday.

Taft, 62, of Greenville, was recovering from surgery at a friend's home on Cartier Drive in Raleigh on March 6, 2010, when she was raped and beaten repeatedly on the head with a blunt object, according to an autopsy report. Her sister found her bloodied and unresponsive, and she died three days later, police have said.

Her skull had been fractured, and she suffered from extensive brain damage as a result of the attack, the autopsy found.

Jason Keith Williford, who lived less than a mile from where Taft was staying, was arrested April 16, 2010, and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape in the case.

If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens also appointed a third defense attorney to the case because of possible scheduling conflicts with lead counsel Ernest Conner. He is scheduled to try another capital murder case in the spring and might need to be removed from the case.

The trial could last anywhere from four to 12 weeks, attorneys discussed.

Investigators haven't offered a motive for Taft's slaying but have said they do not believe she knew Williford.

13 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • LizardLick Jul 20, 2011

    @RebelYell55 - You know North Carolina is the only state in the union that does not have a speedy trail clause. I have a family member that has been framed and pending trial for almost 3 years.

    With no evidence you can be put in JAIL to rot! There is no more innocent till proven guilty in NC. Its Guilty Till You Prove yourself INNOCENT! That is wrong.!

  • jamar32806 Jul 20, 2011

    His DNA did match the DNA that was found at the crime scene! Why have a trial and waste taxpayer's money? Where is the firing squad when you need them?

  • Hans Jul 20, 2011

    "Horray a trial with actual real evidence. Can someone correct me if I am wrong, but didn't they find his DNA at the crime scene and also on the victim? For those of you who in the other murder trials always blame the husband and ask why would a random person just beat and murder someone? This is the perfect example of a random crime." - bleedenblackngold

    Well, since there was no husband and the ex-boyfriend was out of the country, they all were insisting the sister did it. Even after this dude was arrested, they were STILL insisting the sister must have been involved! Yes, I believe his DNA was found as you said.

  • bleedenblackngold Jul 20, 2011

    Horray a trial with actual real evidence. Can someone correct me if I am wrong, but didn't they find his DNA at the crime scene and also on the victim? For those of you who in the other murder trials always blame the husband and ask why would a random person just beat and murder someone? This is the perfect example of a random crime.

  • MikeTysonsPunchOut Jul 20, 2011

    When he is found guilty, they need to put him out of our misery.

  • WooHoo2You Jul 20, 2011

    What is the point of having a trial if the person is guilty?-prophetdavis08

    You are kidding right?

  • Hans Jul 20, 2011

    "What is the point of having a trial if the person is guilty? why not just sentence him/her and get it over with? It's just a waste of tax payers money." - prophetdavis08

    The point of a trial IS to determine whether or not a person is guilty. It's getting really disturbing lately seeing some of the comments regarding trials.

  • Iworkforaliving Jul 20, 2011

    I heard nor saw anyone claim it was a black man. If you want to start useless trouble go "work" for the naacp. Their good at starting trouble over NOTHING too.

  • tigresspen Jul 20, 2011

    So that's a tenative date for the trial? You can't tenatively go on trial.

  • wakemom Jul 20, 2011

    i rememeber when this happened and ppl here was saying they knew it was a black man that did it. smh!

    but yeah why is this trial starting in march?

More...