Lawyer says cops eyeing Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor listens to closing arguments in front of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission on Thursday, February 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Shawn Rocco, Pool)

March 16, 2010 9:07:45 PM PDT
A lawyer for a North Carolina man exonerated of a prostitute's murder in a groundbreaking innocence hearing says police now want to test the clothing her client was wearing for the victim's DNA.

It stems from a simple request for the Raleigh Police Department to return Greg Taylor's belongings confiscated when Jacquetta Thomas was found murdered in south Raleigh in September 1991.

A three-judge panel found Taylor innocent of the murder last month and freed him from prison after more than 17 years. It was the first exoneration for the state's Innocence Commission, which is the only panel of its kind in the nation.

"In order to do that, get that closure, I wanted my clothes back and my personal property that they still had," Taylor said.

His attorney made the request two weeks ago. But Monday afternoon, an attorney for Raleigh police told her about the additional tests.

"These tests they want to do touch DNA tests looking for skin cells, because they've already been tested thoroughly for blood and came back negative," Taylor said. "It's a fight that I thought was over and when will it be over if it wasn't over when these judges made that decision."

District Attorney Colon Willoughby says the attorney for RPD called him last week to say that Taylor had asked that his belongings be returned.

Willoughby says he told the attorney that was fine with it since Taylor had been exonerated. He was apparently not part of the decision to try to re-test the clothing.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Raleigh police, attorney Chris Mumma reluctantly granted permission to test Taylor's clothing he was wearing when Thomas was found.

"If you've spent 17 years in prison for a crime you didn't commit, there's fear," Mumma said. "The investigation wasn't handled right then, how could he have confidence this part of the investigation is going to be handled properly?"

Taylor says Raleigh police can test the clothes if they want, but he's skeptical of their timing.

"My only concern is if there's some kind of contamination or other misdoings," he said.

Taylor says he fears he may again be the focus of the same murder investigation that sent him to prison 17 years ago.

"All that frustration and confusion that I felt all these years fighting my case, they came back," Taylor said. "This is mind-boggling because three judges declared that I was innocent and I just don't understand the Raleigh police department. I mean don't they know what the word innocent means."

Taylor's attorney says no matter what police decide, Taylor cannot be charged again for the same crime.

A police spokesman declined to immediately comment.

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