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.

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