Pleas continue to free inmate

October 6, 2009 4:55:44 PM PDT
A Cary man remains behind bars despite a ruling by a state innocence commission that stated he is not guilty of murder.Since that ruling last month, Greg Taylor's family has protested in front of the Wake County courthouse asking the district attorney to free him.

The DA can decide to support Taylor's bid for freedom, but he said he nor the innocence commission have the final say. He said it is ultimately up to a higher power. He said the law on innocence inquiries doesn't allow it.

"Neither I nor any other individual in the criminal justice system has that power," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. "The only persons that can overturn the jury's verdict is the three judge panel."

It was Willoughby's office that convicted Taylor of the 1991 murder of Jacquetta Thomas.

Taylor admitted he was smoking crack on a dirt path in southeast Raleigh when he and friend drove by Thomas' body.

He said he decided not to report it. But when his SUV got stuck, he abandoned it and that made him the leading suspect.

The innocence commission, however, found flaws in the case, including a confession by another inmate that he was the killer.

Willoughby has recently read the four statements from that inmate and said he was skeptical.

"If the public were to go back and read these statements in their entirety, not just the little portions that were shown to the Innocence Inquiry Commission, they would be skeptical also," Willoughby said.

Willoughby said he and others on his staff have been pouring over boxes of evidence turned over by the innocence commission last month.

Although he has 60 days to file a response, he expects to file his response sooner than that.

"I hope we'll be able to have it next week," he said.

Willoughby concedes Taylor was convicted with circumstantial evidence and that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he is innocent.

"If, after looking at all of this evidence, the evidence is clear and convincing of his innocence then I think he ought to be free," Willoughby said.

But Willoughby said there is a process that has to be followed -a process that hasn't been completed despite what some in the public might think based news reports.

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