Local News

Mental defense possible in state school board member's slaying

Posted September 29, 2011 3:45 p.m. EDT
Updated September 29, 2011 5:19 p.m. EDT

— Lawyers for a Raleigh man facing a possible death sentence in the slaying of a state school board official are considering using his mental health as part of his defense when he goes to trial next year.

During a routine hearing Thursday, defense attorneys for Jason Keith Williford, 31, gave notice to the court and prosecutors that they might argue that he had a diminished mental capacity when he allegedly raped and repeatedly beat Kathy Taft on the head last year.

Taft, 62, of Greenville, was recovering from surgery at a friend's home in Raleigh when the crime happened on March 6, 2010. She died three days later.

Williford, who is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree forcible rape, is expected to go to trial March 5.

Investigators haven't offered a motive for the crime but have said they do not believe that Taft knew Williford.