Death Penalty Trial Delayed Due To "Inflammatory" Jail Calls

Government Says Taylor Called Jurors "Racist Rednecks"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Judge Curtis Collier on Tuesday morning granted a delay in the Rejon Taylor death penalty trial after defense attorneys objected to "inflammatory" jail phone calls made by Taylor.

Prosecutor Steve Neff said in one recorded conversation that Taylor referred to the jury as "racist rednecks."

He said the taped phone calls "show what kind of a person Taylor is" and should be considered by the jury in deciding whether or not to give him the death penalty. The jury earlier found the 24-year-old Atlanta man guilty of the murder of Atlanta restaurant operator Guy Luck on Aug. 6, 2003, in Collegedale.

Defense attorneys said they were given no warning about the jail calls and said they are meant to "inflame the jury."

Attorney Leslie Corey said she found out about the calls when she visited the prosecutors' office at 5 p.m. Monday.

Prosecutor Neff said calls were also reviewed of co-defendant Sir Jack Matthews, who startled prosecutors when he gave a completely different story than he had told before.

He said Taylor and Matthews talked in some of the phone calls about a story they felt would get their cases "thrown out of Federal Court."

He also said Taylor, who was involved in a failed escape attempt before, also referred to security at the Federal Building. "He talked about what was above him and what was below him."

The prosecutor said it was "a scary look into the heart of" someone who should get the death penalty. He said, "This is an example of why" he should be executed.

Attorney Corey said the government was "trying to put Mr. Taylor in an extremely bad light."

There are 10 hour of phone calls on a CD to be given to the defense, including 50 phone calls. Prosecutor Neff said the calls are over the last two weeks - up through Sunday.

Attorneys are to argue the matter next Monday, then there will be testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday. The jury will return the week of Oct. 6.

The prosecution case is expected to take a day and a half and the defense case about a week.

Ferguson Given 15 Years As "Armed Career Criminal"

A Chattanooga man with a lengthy burglary record was sentenced on Thursday to serve 15 years in federal prison. Judge Curtis Collier set the sentence after finding Shannon Ferguson to be an Armed Career Criminal. Prosecutor Michael Porter said Ferguson has five convictions for aggravated burglary and three for burglary. County detectives looking to serve warrants on Ferguson ... (click for more)

DesJarlais Welcomes Withdrawal Of McCarthy From House Speaker Race

Congressman Scott DesJarlais said Thursday he welcomes the withdrawal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the House Speaker race. He said, “The Republican-controlled House of Representatives must be led by a principled, conservative Speaker of the House. I will continue to work to ensure that happens.” (click for more)

Erlanger Settlement Understandable, But Disgusting

Re: Erlanger Reaches Settlement With Former CEO Understandable from a legal liability standpoint but disgusting non the less. Gus Bryan (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Unfortunate Sentence

There was a most unfortunate line in a recent email written to me and, in retrospect, I should not have included it in some examples of the huge response regarding the bicycle lanes now being installed on Broad Street. I’ll admit I misread the line because I feel certain I know what the writer was trying to convey. As a matter of fact, I received enough of an outcry I want to clarify ... (click for more)

Biro, Matthews Power Ooltewah To District 5-3A Volleyball Title

(Story has been updated with start time for Monday's Region 3-3A matches) CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Ooltewah grabbed the momentum. Unexpectedly lost it and then magically regained it at exactly the right time Wednesday in the District 5-3A volleyball tournament at Cleveland Middle School. Senior Alex Biro, named to the all-tournament team and most valuable player after the match, ... (click for more)

Vols Go Back To Basics In Hopes Of Slowing Bulldogs

  With Saturday's SEC showdown against Georgia now just three days away, Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones   and a select group of players spoke to the media early Wednesday afternoon: (Opening Statement) "To kind of give you an injury update on Wednesday, and a lot of this obviously will change by Saturday, but Stephen Griffin   did practice. ... (click for more)