RALEIGH – The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission conducted a hearing Tuesday to consider the case of Gregory Taylor, who has already served 16 years for a murder he says he didn't commit.
The commission decided unanimously five months ago that Taylor, who was convicted of killing 26-year-old prostitute Jacquetta Thomas in 1991, should get a new hearing after another man, Craig Taylor, confessed to the crime. The two men are not related.
Unlike a trial, in this special procedure by the Innocence Inquiry Commission, the burden of proof rests on the defense. Greg Taylor, who was with acquaintance Johnny Beck the night of the murder, must prove his innocence. That is something he and his attorney say they can do in front of this three-judge panel
“There is no physical evidence tying Greg Taylor or Johnny Beck to Jaquetta Thomas or Jaquetta Thomas to Greg Taylor or Johnny Beck,” Joe Cheshire, Taylor's attorney, said.
The prosecution says Craig Taylor’s confession is bogus, but Gregory Taylor points out there is no actual physical evidence linking him to the murder.
With his ankles shackled, Greg Taylor took the stand Tuesday for the first time since the case began. He says, plain and simple, he has been wrongfully imprisoned since the early 90s.
When asked if he was present when Thomas died, his simple answer was: “No, sir,” and if he had anything to do with her death, again: “No, sir.”
But the prosecution believes Taylor has a convenient memory of September 1991, but can't remember many of the details from that night.
Taylor is expected to take the stand again Wednesday. The hearing is expected to last a few days.
The three-judge panel for Tuesday's hearing includes Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, of Wake County; Superior Court Judge Tonya Wallace, of Rockingham County; and Superior Court Judge Calvin Murphy, of Mecklenburg County.