Local News

Inmate's family wants his release

Posted September 29, 2009 5:27 a.m. EDT
Updated September 29, 2009 7:16 p.m. EDT

— A Cary man's fight to be freed from prison took to the streets of downtown Raleigh Tuesday morning with family and to the streets of downtown Raleigh Tuesday morning with family and friends speaking out in support of him.

Greg Taylor was convicted in 1993 of the stabbing and beating death of Jacquetta Thomas, 26, who worked as a prostitute. Police found her body on Blount Street early Sept. 26, 1991.

Joining Taylor's supporters was Dwayne Dail, a former prison inmate wrongly convicted of raping a 12-year-old Goldsboro girl in 1987.

DNA evidence freed Dail after 18 years in prison. His struggle and his support are giving Taylor's family hope, they said.

Taylor, who has served 16 years in prison for the crime, has maintained his innocence, and the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission unanimously decided earlier this month to send his appeal to a three-judge panel that will review the case and decide whether he is innocence.

“There is an answer to a lot of prayers,” his mother, Martine Strickland, said following the announcement.

The decision came after a day of testimony that included statements from another inmate, Craig H. Taylor, confessed to killing Thomas.

Craig Taylor, who is serving time as a habitual felon and drug dealer, told an investigator that he hit Thomas in the face and beat her to death with a bat. He said he tried to make look as if she were raped but did not rape her.

The two men share a last name, but are not related.

But Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby is not ready to charge Craig Taylor with the crime, saying he is "skeptical” about the claim. Craig Taylor has a history of mental health issues and has also confessed to other homicides that have not been substantiated.

"The only information we have that casts doubt on his guilt is the confession from someone who has a history of confessing things he didn't do," Willoughby said Monday.

Willoughby said his office is still waiting on a full hearing transcript and to look at evidence.

"If there is evidence of (Greg Taylor's) innocence, fine," Willoughby said. "If there is not, we don't think this hoax should be perpetrated on the public."

Family members and supporters, however, are calling for Greg Taylor's immediate release.

"I understand it takes time to look at this information, but we feel that time has passed," his daughter, Kristen Puryear, said.

"Now that the truth has come out, the confession has come out, every day is not only an injustice, it's a crime," Dail said.