Local News

Raleigh police chief: Taylor not being targeted

Posted March 17, 2010 1:28 p.m. EDT
Updated March 17, 2010 6:59 p.m. EDT

— Raleigh's police chief said Wednesday that a request to test Gregory Taylor's clothing isn't meant to target him but is a new attempt to solve the murder he was wrongly convicted of in 1993.

Taylor, 47, served nearly 17 years in prison before a special three-judge panel last month vacated his sentence after finding that new evidence was clear and convincing beyond a reasonable doubt that he was innocent in the 1991 murder of Jacquetta Thomas.

“The three-judge panel’s declaration of Mr. Gregory Taylor’s innocence is final and not being disputed," police Chief Harry Dolan said in a statement Wednesday.

Taylor's attorney, Christine Mumma, who also serves as executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, granted permission for the testing but expressed concern Tuesday about why.

"I don't understand what their explanation could be, except for their own doubts about his innocence," she said.

Dolan said he has reopened the case and that a team of detectives wants to test all evidence using science and technology not available in the early 1990s.

"The Raleigh Police Department will need everyone’s cooperation as we conduct a complete and comprehensive reinvestigation of the murder," he said. "Ms. Thomas and her family deserve no less."

Police found Thomas, 29, dead at the end of a Raleigh cul-de- sac in September 1991 and arrested Taylor within hours, after he went to retrieve his SUV from some nearby woods.

Over the years, Taylor exhausted all avenues for appeal. Last year, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission recommended his case be reviewed after his attorneys introduced evidence not considered in his trial.

Among that evidence was a revelation that an SBI agent failed to report that a test for blood on Taylor's SUV was negative. Prosecutors have said that could have resulted in a different outcome of the case.

Taylor also testified during the hearing to seeing someone in the area where Thomas' body was found, but investigators never followed up on that information.

In , she said she has offered to share information she has about the case with investigators.

"We have developed theories over the years we would like to share with RPD," she told WRAL News.

Dolan's statement was cold comfort to Thomas' sister, Yolanda Littlejohn of Garner, who told The Associated Press the police did not contact the family about the plans to reopen the case or even after her sister died.

"Instead of moving forward to find her killer, they're going backwards to test the clothing," she said Wednesday. "That's not in the best interest of us."

Despite her reservations, Littlejohn said she supported the overall idea of reopening the investigation of her sister's murder. "I do believe a good investigation can be done," she said.