Local News

Innocence commission hearing in 1991 murder continues

Posted September 4, 2009 6:08 a.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2009 12:52 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission continued hearing evidence Friday in the case of a Cary man convicted in the 1991 stabbing and beating death of a 26-year-old Raleigh woman.

Greg Taylor was convicted of killing Jacquetta Thomas, a prostitute whose body police found on Blount Street early Sept. 26, 1991. He came to police's attention when he and his friend, Johnny Beck, came to retrieve his truck, which was stuck in mud nearby, witnesses told the commission.

Greg Taylor, though, has maintained his innocence and appealed to the innocence commission. It will decide if there's enough evidence to send the case onto a three-judge panel for a release hearing.

Friday's hearing continued with testimony from commission investigator Sharon Stellato, who interviewed witnesses, lawyers and police officers involved in the original trial.

On Thursday, Stellato said that another inmate, Craig H. Taylor, 40, asked what would happen if he confessed to Thomas' murder. Craig Taylor, who was convicted of being a habitual felon and selling drugs, was in Raleigh at the time of Thomas' death, she said.

Testing on DNA, hairs and another substance found on Thomas and Greg Taylor's truck were inconclusive, according to evidence presented Thursday. The DNA did not match Greg Taylor's, and a substance on the tire of Greg Taylor's truck could not be proved to be blood, which prosecutors had argued in the original trial.

The commission also heard from a woman who worked as a prostitute under the name Eva Marie Kelly at the time of Thomas' death. She talked to police in 1991 and testified at the 1993 trial about seeing Greg Taylor and Beck partying with Thomas on the night of her death.

Stellato said the woman's testimony to the commission, though, showed some inconsistencies, including the color of a truck, the time she saw the men, and whether the she an agreement in return for testifying at the trial.

Charges against Beck were eventually dismissed.

Ernest Andrews told the commission he was in a cell with Greg Taylor the night he was arrested and doesn't understand why he was convicted. Today, he wouldn't recognize Greg Taylor "if he walked through that door right," Andrews said.

In the 1993 trial, Andrews testified that Greg Taylor confessed to killing Thomas.

Thomas' daughter, Sierra Parr, said that prosecutors argued that Greg Taylor was Thomas' heroin supplier and killed her when she refused his sexual advances.

Stellato said she had found no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.

The innocence commission was created 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.