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After nine days of outlining the details in the brutal 2017 killings of two Nampa residents, attorneys offered their closing arguments Tuesday in the trial of William “Willie” Taylor, and the case went to the jury a little after noon.
By 4:30 p.m., the 50-year-old Taylor had been found guilty on all four counts he faced in the deaths of his father, Paul Robert Taylor, 76, and his mother, Mary Jane Taylor, 77, in September 2017.
The gruesome killings took place at the Nampa home where the victims and the suspect lived, in the 1900 block of West Flamingo Avenue. Police found the couple’s bodies wrapped in a tarp and stuffed in a shed next to their carport.
Taylor faced a charge of first-degree murder in Paul Taylor’s death and second-degree murder in Jane Taylor’s death, as well as two felony counts of failing to notify authorities about a death.
Autopsies of the bodies found that Jane suffered 21 wounds to her head and neck that were inflicted by at least two instruments, according to prosecutors. Paul had broken bones in his throat and blows to the skull. Both victims had blows to the head so severe that they created “baseball-sized” holes, authorities said.
Prosecutors argued Tuesday in closing statements that the amount of force required to create those injuries was telling of the amount violence inflicted by Taylor.
Taylor was arrested on Sept. 14, 2017, when he was found sleeping in Oregon in his father’s truck. The prosecution noted that Taylor had put stolen license plates on the truck. Taylor also had his parents’ credit card in his wallet.
The defense argued that Taylor was scared and didn’t know what to do when he found his parents dead.
Prosecutors say Taylor, a former police officer and probation officer, should have known exactly what to do when arriving at a crime scene: call police.
During his closing, defense attorney Ryan Dowell said that his client was truthful with the Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies who picked him up in Oregon. Taylor told authorities that he found his parents dead, tried to clean them up, and panicked and left.
Taylor told deputies, “they are going to think I did it,” said Dowell in court. He said his client was planning to return to Nampa.
Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Ellie Somoza outlined not just the killings, but the series of events that led up to the deaths, as well as Willie Taylor’s actions afterward.
Willie Taylor had been living with his parents for about a year, moving back in with them at age 48. Somoza said Willie Taylor had gotten a DUI and crashed his car months before the killing, and didn’t have a job or a driver’s license.
His parents offered him a place to stay and food, and provided rides, but would not give him money, Somoza said. She explained that living with his parents came with rules. The Taylors were members of the Church of the Nazarene and wouldn’t allow alcohol in their house, and would not allow Willie to drink. Somoza claimed this was a problem for Willie because he is an alcoholic.
The Taylors also did not allow pets in the home and wouldn’t let Taylor bring his dog, Gator, with him. Taylor’s ex-wife volunteered to take the dog, because it otherwise would have to be taken to the Humane Society, and Somoza said this was a topic of tension in the house.
Somoza told jurors that the first call Willie Taylor made was not to police, but to his ex-wife. He allegedly told her that he could have the dog now and asked when he could pick up Gator.
Dowell said the idea that Taylor would kill his parents over a dog was irrational and the motive for the killing was still unclear. He argued that the prosecution focused mostly on what happened after the killing, rather than the killing itself, leaving more questions for jurors than answers. He also took issue with the fact that police did not find a murder weapon at the scene.
“He loved his parents,” Dowell told jurors about his client. “He had no reason to want any harm to come to them.”
Dowell acknowledged that his client was guilty of failing to report the deaths. He said Taylor made an irrational decision while under the influence of alcohol.
Somoza fired back at Dowell, telling jurors, “I submit to you that the irrational decision he made was to kill his parents.”
She argued that everything Taylor did after the deaths was to cover his trail, including going to several stores to buy cleaning supplies.
Prosecutors also said that Taylor told neighbors and his own sister that his parents had “gone to the coast” for Jane’s birthday and would be out of cellphone range — buying himself time to cover up the crime. She emphasized that at no point did Taylor call police.
“He spent the entire weekend living in his parents’ house with their dead bodies,” Somoza told jurors.
The bodies were found by family members who went to the Nampa house to check on the Taylors, and those people called 911.
Willie Taylor served as a Pocatello police officer from October 1991 through December 1996, the Nampa police previously reported. He served in the Nampa police reserve in 1990-91.
Third Judicial District Judge Gene Petty presided over the Canyon County trial.
Prior to closing arguments on Tuesday, defense attorneys requested that the first-degree murder charge be reduced to second-degree murder, because they argued there was no premeditation. Petty disagreed, saying that whoever killed Paul Taylor used blunt force while Paul Taylor was sitting or lying on his bed, and the killer brought a weapon into the bedroom, making it enough to qualify as “premeditation.”