Warrant never served in Duke clinic shooting

Burnette Taylor

May 14, 2010 5:39:32 PM PDT
The man who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend at a Duke medical clinic earlier this month should not have been on the streets.

Burnette Taylor, 52, of Durham shot 49-year-old Charlene Bullock King and later died in a shootout with Durham police.

Taylor was no stranger to the law. A registered sex offender, he died with a rap sheet of violence toward women. As ABC11 reported earlier, Taylor failed to meet with his probation officer last November.

An order for arrest was issued, but community corrections officers couldn't find him. In December, the state got an absconder warrant.

But now, The I-Team has also learned that warrant was never pursued. That begs the question: had it been served, could it have saved King's life?

Durham commissioner Ellen Reckhow heads up the Durham Crime Cabinet which is comprised of city and county leaders. It's the group that pushed for changes with probation and outstanding warrants after the tragic shooting deaths of two Triangle area college students - including UNC Student Body President Eve Carson.

"You'd hope that all major warrants would get served but occasionally you are going to have ones that fall through the cracks," said Reckhow. "[This] tells me that there's more work to do. We obviously are not doing the best job that could be done."

Durham County Chief Deputy Mike Andrews told ABC11 that from a backlog of 70,000 warrants to 40,000, a special squad assigned to outstanding warrants has made considerable progress.

He said in Taylor's case, the Durham police department was responsible for serving that warrant.

"They wanted to maintain and serve their felony warrants and we understood that because they were active cases they were working on," he explained.

But limited funding has put a strain on warrant efforts at the police department and the sheriff's office according to city and county managers at Friday's Crime Cabinet meeting.

And, the warrant squad could be reduced to just four deputies after budget cuts.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez listened in but declined to talk to ABC11 on camera about the Taylor case - saying he's now looking into why the warrant was never served.

There may be no easy answer and no easy solution to an overwhelmed and underfunded piece of crime fighting.

"Unfortunately that incident happened, and it's sad for both families and we wish that had never happened or occurred," said Andrews.

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