In September 1991, the body of a prostitute who had been beaten to death was discovered at the end of a cul-de-sac in Raleigh, North Carolina. Gregory Taylor and his friend had parked in the cul-de-sac the night before to smoke crack, and had left the truck there overnight after it got stuck in the mud. When Taylor returned to get the truck, he and his friend were arrested for the murder of the woman. At Taylor’s trial, the prosecution presented a lab technician’s report to the jury that described a “chemical indication for the presence of blood” in his truck. A prostitute testified that she had seen the victim get into Taylor’s car, and a jailhouse snitch testified that Taylor had confessed to him. In April 1993, a jury convicted Taylor of murder and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Several years after Taylor’s conviction, another inmate confessed to the murder. It was also discovered that the prostitute who had testified against Taylor was on drugs when she claimed to have seen the victim get into Taylor’s car, and couldn’t remember what the driver looked like. Additionally, the wording in the lab technician’s report is the description analysts are required to give when an initial test indicates the presence of blood, but in this case, subsequent tests showed that no blood was present. Because the author of the report did not testify, and did not tell the prosecution about the negative results, the jury did not hear the results of the subsequent tests. In 2009, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission held a hearing on Taylor’s case, and the eight member commission unanimously concluded that Taylor was innocent. In February 2010, after a review by a three judge panel, Taylor’s conviction was overturned, and in May 2010, he was pardoned by the Governor of North Carolina.
- Stephanie Denzel