Greg Taylor walked out of a North Carolina courtroom today a free man for the first time in 17 years after a three-judge panel declared that he had provided clear and convincing of his innocence.
Taylor is the first person cleared by through the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission process, which offers an official route to review and exoneration for prisoners who proclaim their innocence. The Innocence Inquiry panel heard evidence in the case last year and recommended it to the three-judge panel, which today ruled that Taylor had been wrongfully convicted in 1993.
Taylor was convicted of murdering a prostitute in Raleigh in 1991. Among evidence used to convict him was testimony from a forensic analyst that human blood was found in his truck after the crime.
That evidence has since been disproved
, revealing troubling practices in the forensic lab conducting the test.
Taylor was represented on appeal by Christine Mumma and other lawyers at the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence (a member of the
). In his closing argument on Taylor’s behalf today, attorney Joseph Cheshire said freeing the innocent can help build a stronger system.
“Out of tragedy and sadness can actually come a better world,” Cheshire said. “Nothing makes our system better than the public acknowledgement that mistakes have been made.”
News & Observer
The New York Times reported
on Taylor’s release and the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.
“North Carolina’s commission is an important model for the adjudication of innocence claims,” said Barry C. Scheck, director of the
in New York. “In the American court system, there are normally procedural bars that get in the way of litigating whether someone is innocent or not.”
Pool Photo: Shawn Rocco