Kathy Taft

Judge dismisses second juror in Jason Williford trial

Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner dismissed a second juror Tuesday in the capital trial of Jason Williford, who is accused of raping and beating state school board member Kathy Taft.

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Jason Williford
RALEIGH, N.C. — The judge presiding over the capital murder trial of a Raleigh man accused of killing North Carolina state school board member Kathy Taft dismissed a second juror in the case Tuesday after she failed to show up to court.

Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner said the woman gave "no reason satisfactory to the court" to retain her as a juror.

Gessner delayed the trial on Monday after the same juror reported that she had a childcare issue.

The decision leaves only one of three alternate jurors for the trial.

Another juror was dismissed on the first day of testimony last week because she was the sole caretaker of her elderly mother.

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.

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.

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