Kathy Taft

Trial of Kathy Taft's accused killer continued until Tuesday

Posted May 21, 2012

— Testimony in the trial of Jason Williford, a Raleigh man accused of killing North Carolina state school board member Kathy Taft, was continued until Tuesday because of a child care issue involving one of the jurors.

Williford, 32, is accused of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree burglary in Taft's March 9, 2010, death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Monday would have marked the fourth day of testimony in the case, but prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge decided to continue the case instead of dismissing the juror.

Both sides were concerned about how doing so might affect any post-conviction appeals. The state was also concerned about releasing a juror so early in the case, which is expected to last several weeks.

They started with 12 jurors and three alternates but had to release one juror on Wednesday because she was the sole caretaker for her elderly mother. If they were to dismiss another juror, it would leave them with only one alternate juror.

Prosecutors say Williford deliberately raped and beat Taft, 62, as she was recovering from surgery, but defense attorneys say he was incapable of forming the necessary mental intent that is needed for a first-degree murder conviction, because he suffers from a number of disorders and illnesses.

Testimony is expected to continue at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.


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  • johnnyislate May 21, 2012

    Did the killer know right from wrong? He knew what he did was wrong and illegal. He refused to give his DNA on a neighborhood canvas. He knew he would be a match to the crime scene. The guy may have serious problems, including drug, alcohol, mental illness and other things, but did he know right from wrong? He sure did. Diminished mental capacity doesnt fly here.

  • storchheim May 21, 2012

    It's true that things can come up, JAT, but this juror was the sole caretaker of her elderly mother. She should have been excused in the first place, is all I'm saying. But I agree with you, the judge is making the best decision possible at this point.

  • winemaker81 May 21, 2012

    @ncgayatheist: Williford may not have "made" himself, but he proved in unarguable terms that he is too dangerous to be allowed freedom.

    How many innocent women have to be raped and killed for you to understand that? Maybe I'm odd, but I believe that one was one too many.

  • ncgayatheist May 21, 2012

    ncgayatheist. I don't care about his mental "state". I just care that he did it and deserves to be punished. Also, if he had such diminished capacity to negate mens rea, then why did he refuse the DNA test? Let's pronounce this guy innocent and move on.Never mind an innocent woman is dead and her family and friends have to deal with that. biguncfan

    No one said this man was innocent. No one said there is not concern and sympathy for the victims family. There is more than black & white thinking you know. As far as why Williford refused DNA test, who knows, perhaps a mosquito told him not to do it. One rational moment in the life of a mental patient does not make them sane, nor does one isolated incident of insanity for a normally mentally healthy person make them mad. His long history of mental illness shows this is not a one time fake plea, nor is his defense denying his actions. The man does deserve adequate mental health help, no matter what his crime.

  • squirt80 May 21, 2012

    no he does NOT DESERVE A COMPETENT TRIAL.. he murdered a innocent person, so therefore he deserves what he gets.. yeah put him in an asylum so what he can be out in a few years i don't think so. gayatheist; you would feel different if it was your family or one of your loved ones..

  • mikehsucks May 21, 2012

    I guess we will have to wait and see what the jury says. I think there is a good chance of a insane plea being accepted. Plus mental anguish now that his wife is leaving him I hope the plastic surgery was to fix her "they live" right eye It is obvious she was friend with Bev!

  • BigUNCFan May 21, 2012

    I would think the cost of providing care givers for the day for this situation would be cheaper for the state than to make all of these people be on the payroll for the day that is wasted. Same for the juror with the sick mom.

    I know it would be a cost for the state but that cost would be small versus having a retrial or a lot of delays.

    Sometimes you spend a nickel to save a dollar.

  • BigUNCFan May 21, 2012

    ncgayatheist. I don't care about his mental "state". I just care that he did it and deserves to be punished.

    Also, if he had such diminished capacity to negate mens rea, then why did he refuse the DNA test? Huh? That would imply he knew what he was doing, but let's not bring the facts and common sense into things.

    He fought the DNA test to the point where they had to grab a cigarette butt from the ground to get what they needed. If he were totally out there, he would have given the test because he would not have known any better. He knew what he did was wrong and was covering it up. Also, he was sneaky the night of the attack instead of being wide open.

    Let's pronounce this guy innocent and move on, after all he had a terrible childhood, history of mental illness in the family and other factors. Never mind an innocent woman is dead and her family and friends have to deal with that. Those are just pesky details.

    Geez, what are people thinking these days?

  • ncgayatheist May 21, 2012

    he made himself that way, he chose to live the life style he lived.. now bc he chose that life style, he took a innocent person life. he should be locked away and put in a cell with everyone else and the guys need to come and run a train on him. squirt80

    WOW! What a lovely sentiment. So glad that you are not in charge of our legal system. Mr. Williford didn't "make himself" that way. he has not only a serious family history of mental illness, but has been put in a sanitarium previously. He was not being supervised properly and obviously needs serious medications. Mentally ill people do not "make themselves" that way, nor do they understand the consequences of their actions when acting in a deranged state. He deserves a competent trial, mental treatment in a secure facility and not a pitchforks and bonfire mentality. And certainly not a "run a train on him" attitude. THAT might be YOUR personal fantasy, but it should have nothing to do with our legal system.

  • jmf1073 3.0 May 21, 2012

    My thoughts exactly suirt80.