Witness stands by testimony at Taylor hearing

Greg Taylor listens to evidence at his hearing

February 15, 2010 6:33:23 PM PST
The witness who testified against a North Carolina man at the 1993 murder trial that resulted in his conviction said at a special innocence hearing Monday that he stood by his original testimony.

Ernest Andrews of New Bern testified before a three-judge panel in the case of Greg Taylor, who hopes to become the first person released in North Carolina as the result of the work of the North Carolina Innocence Commission. Andrews testified in 1993 that Taylor confessed his involvement in the murder of a prostitute in Raleigh while the two men were being held at the Wake County Jail.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, who heads the panel, pointed to Taylor and said to Andrews that Taylor had been in prison "in large measure, upon your sworn testimony ... Are you sticking with your sworn testimony today?"

"Yes, sir," Andrews replied.

"You're not taking it back in any way?" Manning asked. "No, sir."

Andrews, who was being held because he had been sentenced for embezzling from the insulation company where he worked, testified Monday that he hoped his cooperation would help him get a reduced sentence but that it did not.

"I would say that nine times out of 10, it would be to gain some type of favoritism," Andrews said.

Taylor, 47, of Cary was convicted of the murder of Jacquetta Thomas, whose body was found in September 1991 at a deserted cul-de-sac where Taylor's sport utility vehicle also was found. Taylor testified that the SUV became stuck when he and a friend went to the cul-de-sac to smoke crack cocaine. He and the friend, Johnny Beck, testified that they saw what they thought was a body but didn't report it to police.

North Carolina remains the only state with a government agency solely dedicated to verifying claims of innocence. The commission, established in 2006, so far has moved only one other case to a panel of judges, who denied an exoneration.

Prosecutors planned to finish their case Monday, with closing arguments scheduled for Wednesday, when the judges plan to issue a decision. No court will be held Tuesday.

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