Governor pardons Greg Taylor

May 21, 2010 8:28:17 PM PDT
Governor Beverly Perdue announced Friday she has pardoned Greg Taylor.

Taylor spent 17 years in prison for the murder of Jacquetta Thomas, but a three judge panel recently found him innocent and released him from jail in February.

"Gregory Taylor was forced to pay a debt to society for a crime he did not commit. No amount of money can buy back those 17 years, but at least this pardon of innocence will clear his name and make him eligible to receive compensation for his unjust imprisonment," Gov. Perdue said in a news release.

Taylor was out of town when he first heard about the pardon that came down on the same day as his daughter's 27th birthday.

"It was exciting the first time and this time, it's a big relief," Taylor said. "What is it worth to miss your daughters 10th birthday, to miss her high school graduation, to miss her college graduation, to hear about her walking down the aisle on her wedding day by herself? You know, it's...you couldn't have given me anything for missing that."

The pardon came as a result of the work of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the only panel of its kind in the country set up to investigate claims of innocence.

Taylor was the first person found innocent through the panel's work. He is also the first person Governor Perdue has pardoned.

Just weeks after being exonerated, Taylor walked into the state clemency office with his application for a governor's pardon.

"When I filed for this pardon, I was led to believe it was a no brain decision that it would not take long at all," he said in a recent interview with ABC11.

But, several months later, Taylor was still waiting after learning that Perdue wanted the results of tests on the clothing worn by Taylor the night that Thomas was killed in September 1991 before issuing the pardon.

Taylor gave permission for the testing in March.

"When RPD decided to do the DNA testing, it kind of took on another life," Taylor said.

Those results are now back - and there is no new evidence implicating him in the crime - so Perdue issued the pardon.

"When she found out about the DNA results we gave her the option to wait until Monday to sign the pardon," Governor Spokesperson Chrissy Pearson said. "Quite honestly she said, 'this man has waited 17 years for this, just because I'm not in Raleigh, I'm not going to make him wait two more days until Monday.'"

The governor had someone drive the pardon to her in New Bern, where she signed it Friday afternoon.

Now that Taylor has been pardoned, he could receive a $750,000 payment from the state.

"It's for trying to help me get on my feet now and get my life in order," Taylor said.

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