Local News

Wake DA responds to Innocence Commission

Posted October 13, 2009 10:18 a.m. EDT
Updated November 24, 2009 5:45 p.m. EST

— Wake County's district attorney is responding to the findings of the state Innocence Inquiry Commission in the case of a Cary man convicted of killing a prostitute 18 years ago.

"The evidence in this case fails to show by clear and convincing evidence that Greg Taylor is innocent of the murder of Jacquetta Thomas," Colon Willoughby said Tuesday.

Greg Taylor was convicted in 1993 of the stabbing and beating death of Jacquetta Thomas, 26, whose body was found on Blount Street early Sept. 26, 1991.

Taylor, who has served 16 years in prison for the crime, has maintained his innocence, and the state commission unanimously decided last month to send his appeal to a three-judge panel that will review the case and decide whether he is innocent.

The decision came after testimony that included statements from another inmate, Craig H. Taylor, who 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 it look as if she were raped but did not rape her.

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

"This case was a rush to judgment from the defense side seeking to disprove someone's conviction," Willoughby said. "I think there was an orchestrated public campaign to try and pressure our office into releasing Greg Taylor without looking at the evidence."

Willoughby has said he is "skeptical" about the claim and in a court filing Tuesday, said that Craig Taylor has confessed to more than 70 homicides that have been "neither reliable nor credible as demonstrated by the facts."

"He is both physically sick and mentally ill, and I think he was exploited," Willoughby said. "He was supplied information about the crime before he confessed."

The response comes after the district attorney's office spent six weeks reviewing evidence in the case, as well as a full transcript of the Innocence Commission hearing.

"There may be some evidence somewhere that Greg Taylor did not commit this crime, but it was not in the evidence presented to the Innocence Commission," Willoughby said. "They were presented with false confessions and inconclusive evidence about DNA."

Greg Taylor's family and supporters, meanwhile, have called for his immediate release.

His brother, Eddie Taylor, said Tuesday that the district attorney's findings don't sway his family's belief that their family member is innocent.

"From what I've seen in the response, it doesn't change the fact that Greg is innocent," Eddie Taylor said. "We've thought that for 16 1/2 years."

Thomas' sister, Yolanda Littlejohn, testified before the Innocence Commission that she thought Greg Taylor was innocent. She said Tuesday that she was disappointed by prosecutors' response.

"The evidence doesn't point to him," she said. "It may not point to Craig Taylor, but it doesn't point to Greg Taylor."

Innocence Commission officials have said that the only other case they sent to a three-judge panel took nine months before there was a resolution.

Officials noted there is no determination how long it will take for Greg Taylor's case and a date has not been set.

The panel will include Judge Howard Manning, a Superior Court judge based in Wake County, as well as Tonya Wallace, a Superior Court judge in Rockingham County, and Calvin Murphy, a judge in Mecklenburg County.