Local News

Innocence Commission hears about another inmate

Posted September 3, 2009 5:37 a.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2009 11:42 a.m. EDT

— During an interview with the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state inmate burst into tears and asked them what would happen if he confessed to a murder another man was convicted for, an investigator testified on Thursday in Raleigh.

Greg Taylor, 47, was convicted of killing Jacquetta Thomas, 26, a prostitute who was stabbed and bludgeoned to death in Raleigh in 1991. Taylor's white Nissan Pathfinder was found near Thomas' body on Blount Street.

Taylor maintains his innocence and is asking the commission to decide if there's enough evidence for a release hearing. If commissioners agree, a three-judge panel would determine if the evidence is strong enough to overturn his conviction.

Taylor's previous appeals have failed.

A commission investigator did a series of interviews with another inmate – Craig H. Taylor, 40, who isn't related to Greg Taylor. During those interviews, the investigator said Craig Taylor asked what would happen if he confessed to Thomas' murder.

For the past six years, Craig Taylor has been at the Lumberton Correctional Institution after being convicted as a habitual felon conviction. Craig, who was also convicted for selling drugs, was living in Raleigh at the time of Thomas' death, according to a commission investigator.

The investigator is expected to speak on Friday about further interviews with Craig Taylor.

Sierra Pharr, Thomas' daughter, said she doesn't believe Taylor deserves another chance at freedom.

"All the evidence points to him. I know he murdered my mother," Pharr said.

On Thursday, witnesses talked about seeing either Thomas or Taylor before the murder.

An eight-person commission is reviewing physical evidence, including a substance on Taylor's truck that might not be blood as prosecutors originally believed. The commission retested DNA from Thomas' underwear to see if it matches Taylor's.

Then-Gov. Mike Easley created the innocence commission in August 2006 to consider new evidence in felony cases. The eight judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and law enforcement officers review claims of innocence from convicted criminals and consider new evidence that might justify a new verdict.

Nearly 500 inmates have asked the innocence commission to look at their cases. Of those 375 were rejected, nine made it the investigation stage, and two to a formal hearing.

Among the applicants, 24 percent were convicted of murder, and 20 percent were convicted of sex crimes with children.

Pharr, who was six when her mother was killed, said she hopes for justice.

"Regardless of the lifestyle or whatever you might call it my mother, she was still a person, she was still a human being, and she still had feelings," she said. "I feel like he needs to stay in prison, because she left four children behind."

Thomas' other daughter, Komeka Thomas, said the commission looking into the case has brought back painful memories.

"It's even worse. Now that the whole case has been brought back to the public," Komeka Thomas said. "We're having to relive that when some of us just found closure...it's not right."

Taylor's mother, step-father and brother attended Thursday's hearing. They said they fully support Taylor and believe he is innocent.