In the News & Observer, January 16, 2010 article titled “Judge won’t delay Taylor case,” staff writer Mandy Locke strictly followed the media’s PAPEN (Protect All Prosecutors Except Nifong) policy by omitting Wake County Prosecutor Tom Ford’s name from the article. Prosecutor Ford is responsible for convicting Gregory Flint Taylor for a 1993 murder that he did not commit. Mr. Taylor received a life sentence because he would not implicate another innocent man (Johnny Beck, an African American) for the crime. Even despite tantalizing offers in exchange for his testimony, Mr. Taylor refused to lie at Tom Ford’s demand, and has, as a consequence, spent sixteen years wrongly incarcerated. Tom Ford convicted Taylor solely on testimony from a jailhouse snitch and a prostitute, both of whom were offered reduced sentences in exchange for their cooperation. What is even more egregious is the fact that Prosecutor Ford withheld these backroom deals with the two false witnesses from the Taylor defense attorneys. Despite the above, Tom Ford’s name is never even mentioned in the entire article. Not once! But that is the way it is when the PAPEN policy is in place.
Now, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has pleaded for a delay in the Gregory Taylor case before the three judge panel which is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, 2010. The newspaper article did not state the length of time D.A. Willoughby sought to delay the hearing. Fact of the matter is that even with a delay of an additional sixteen years from now, Willoughby would still not be ready to go before a panel of three judges. And it won’t be because he didn’t have the time to prepare, it’ll be because he doesn’t have a case. He never did, and neither did the original prosecutor Ford, who Willoughby is trying to protect. Willoughby would rather waste taxpayer resources and time and the court’s time with this charade against Gregory Taylor in order to protect the wheelin’ and dealin’ prosecutor Tom Ford than to dismiss the murder charge and allow an innocent man to go free… an innocent and honorable man who has wrongly spent sixteen potentially productive years lost behind bars.
One thing should be clear, however, and that is that Gregory Flint Taylor will be free. There is no doubt about that. Now that there is some oversight on some shaky convictions, in the form of an Innocence Inquiry Commission, prosecutors will be less likely to continually hold innocent people unjustly… all to the dismay of D.A. Willoughby. As a prosecutor, Colon Willoughby is supposed to be a “minister of justice,” seeking truth over a conviction. The fact that he voted against the recommendation of the creation of the Innocence Inquiry Commission shows Willoughby’s lack of commitment to putting truth before conviction. It is the same position taken by Attorney General Roy Cooper who retried Alan Gell in the murder case initially prosecuted by David Hoke. Cooper wasted taxpayer money by re-trying a man in which exculpatory evidence proved that he could not possibly have committed the murder for which he was sentenced to death (evidence withheld by prosecutor Hoke from Gell’s defense included information that Gell was incarcerated on an auto-theft charge during the time that the murder was committed). The jury immediately acquitted Gell at his retrial, when this exculpatory evidence was presented.
“We’re at a disadvantage. We don’t know much of anything,” Willoughby is quoted as stating with regards to not knowing the identity of witnesses Taylor’s attorneys will likely call at the February 9th hearing. The bottom line is, that if Tom Ford’s initial prosecution had merit, then Willoughby would be prepared to take on anything that Taylor’s attorneys could toss at them. The problem for Willoughby is that Ford’s case against Taylor in 1993 was merit-less. That is their disadvantage, and it is one that cannot be overcome by time or anything Willoughby does. The three judge panel will find Gregory Taylor not guilty.
And when the media covers that event on February 9th, they will talk about how Gregory F. Taylor was wrongfully incarcerated for sixteen years, the details about the hearing, and give a background history about the murder which led to this tragedy of sixteen lost years. But, in strict compliance with the PAPEN policy, the media will not mention the name of Tom Ford, the prosecutor responsible for this tremendous injustice. However, do not be surprised to see Mike Nifong’s name, through some convoluted and tortuous manner, linked to the ghastly tragedy that befell Greg Taylor… from which the mindless and misled among the media consumers will naturally attribute Mr. Taylor’s misfortune to that evil and sinister Mr. Nifong.