Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, in fighting to keep Gregory Taylor behind bars, is doing his best to protect the prosecutor who unjustly put him there, Tom Ford. Currently Gregory Taylor is serving a life sentence for the 1991 murder of Jacquetta Thomas. Recent evidence brought forth by Taylor’s attorneys state that Prosecutor Ford and a detective tried repeatedly to force Greg Taylor to falsely implicate Johnny Beck (an African American with a criminal drug record) in the murder of Ms. Thomas. They threatened to pin the murder on him if he did not cooperate to help them get an innocent (of the murder) black man off the street. Displaying more integrity, honesty, and sense of ethics than the prosecutor and detectives, Taylor refused, and as a result, the bogus case was manufactured against him, as promised. Because of his decision to do the right thing morally, Gregory Taylor has spent the last sixteen years in prison for a murder that he did not commit. And he remains in prison today.
The case against Gregory Taylor was flimsy to non-existent from the beginning. Without physical evidence tying him to the crime, he was convicted solely on the testimony of a prostitute and jailhouse snitch (both of whom received from the prosecutor a deal similar to the deal offered to Taylor). For implicating Taylor in the murder, the prosecutor gave them a break in their jail sentences; information about that prosecutorial offer was withheld from Greg Taylor’s attorneys at the time of trial. The case against Gregory Taylor really collapsed when another man, Craig Taylor (no relation) confessed to the crime. In confessing he established that he had a personal relationship with the victim, and he had knowledge about aspects of the crime that were not made public by investigators. In contrast, the witnesses who received a break for testifying against Greg Taylor, got a lot of the information about the crime wrong.
“Minister of Justice” Tom Ford, as late as 2003, asked a judge to deny Taylor’s request for DNA testing, despite the willingness of Taylor’s family to pay the costs. Fortunately for Mr. Taylor, who consistently appealed his conviction, the state’s Innocence Inquiry Commission took notice of his case. After a hearing, it declared that he was innocent and recommended that a three judge panel hear the case and make a ruling. In preparing for the hearing before the Innocence Inquiry Commission, Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby requested that Tom Ford (who prosecuted Taylor and is hardly impartial about him) assist him. Also, in their preparation, no one from the prosecutor’s office bothered to interview Craig Taylor, the man who confessed to the crime.
And about Johnny Beck, the African American with a criminal drug record who Prosecutor Ford hoped to pin Thomas’s murder on by using false testimony of Greg Taylor, and who was identified by Ford as the actual murderer of Jacquetta Thomas: Ford was forced to drop charges because Greg Taylor refused to lie against Beck, and without that false testimony, there was absolutely no case against Beck.
Wilson Prosecutor Bill Wolfe accused James Arthur Johnson of the murder, rape, kidnapping, and armed robbery of Brittany Willis after Johnson heroically solved her murder. He did the right thing by going to the police with information about a crime, and it cost him 39 months in jail. Another innocent man, Gregory Taylor did the right thing by refusing to accept an offer by Prosecutor Ford to give false testimony against an innocent man, and he was sentenced to life in prison on trumped up murder charges. Both prosecutors have no problem with putting innocent people behind bars, and as long as they follow the state’s tenet of “selective justice based on Class and Color,” they have no reason not to continue doing so when prosecuting. In both cases, the powers that be make sure to go out of their way, even at wasteful taxpayer expense, to shield them from any consequences of their unjust and abhorrent actions.