Kathy Taft

Trial of Kathy Taft's accused killer continued until Tuesday

Posted May 21, 2012 10:20 a.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2012 10:43 a.m. EDT

— Testimony in the trial of Jason Williford, a Raleigh man accused of killing North Carolina state school board member Kathy Taft, was continued until Tuesday because of a child care issue involving one of the jurors.

Williford, 32, is accused of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree burglary in Taft's March 9, 2010, death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Monday would have marked the fourth day of testimony in the case, but prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge decided to continue the case instead of dismissing the juror.

Both sides were concerned about how doing so might affect any post-conviction appeals. The state was also concerned about releasing a juror so early in the case, which is expected to last several weeks.

They started with 12 jurors and three alternates but had to release one juror on Wednesday because she was the sole caretaker for her elderly mother. If they were to dismiss another juror, it would leave them with only one alternate juror.

Prosecutors say Williford deliberately raped and beat Taft, 62, as she was recovering from surgery, but defense attorneys say he was incapable of forming the necessary mental intent that is needed for a first-degree murder conviction, because he suffers from a number of disorders and illnesses.

Testimony is expected to continue at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.