Lufkin woman found guilty on seven counts of child abuse

Kathy Taylor mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Kathy Taylor mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin woman is found guilty of binding her children with duct tape and beating them with an extension cord.

After nearly three hours of deliberation, a jury found Kathy Taylor guilty of seven counts of child abuse.

The jury returned a guilty verdict on four counts of injury to a child, one of them was downgraded to a lesser degree, and three counts of unlawful restraint.

The jury will come back Thursday at 9 a.m. to assess Taylor's punishment.

A young man testified Wednesday that a statement he gave to an investigator in his mother's child abuse investigation was not true.

The state has rested and the defense has begun calling their witnesses in Taylor's trial.

Taylor, 38, is on trial, charged with injury to a child.

The trial started Monday with Taylor's 17-year-old daughter telling jurors her mother duct-taped her wrists and mouth and burned her with a curling iron.

The defense called Taylor's son, a high school student, to testify.

"It's not accurate," the young man said of his past statement regarding the case.

Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington asked Taylor's son how his mom would discipline them. He said she would ground them or spank them with a belt.

"I am not going to say they were always good, they were bad sometimes," he said of his sisters.

He said he would get spanked for stealing.

"I think it was enough," he said in regards to how much his mother spanked him.

He said the spankings were when he was young. She usually grounds them now, he said.

The man testified if his mom could not figure out who misbehaved, they would all be grounded.

"It was one at a time," he said of how the children were spanked.

He testified under oath at a prior hearing that his mother sometimes used tape to tie them up and sometimes they ran off and she would get tired of it.

"At the time I still wanted to keep it neutral between my mom and dad," he said. The witness claimed he didn't want either parent to be angry at him. However, he said now he's telling the truth because he just doesn't care anymore.

"That's not the truth sir," he said referring to his past statement.

Herrington pointed out that he testified under oath.

"Lies, everybody lies," said the witness.

In the previous hearing, the man testified his mom did hit them with an extension cord.

"They stung so it put me in my place," read Herrington.

He said his testimony differs from courtroom to courtroom because he was "...afraid he [his dad] wouldn't love me anymore."

"It's kind of hard, my parents kind of hate each other," he said. The witness testified his mom is very forgiving.

Herrington asked the witness how he remembered so many details when he gave his original story to an investigator.

He said his dad told him what to say.

"In my heart I just felt like the truth needed to be told," he told jurors.

Taylor's attorney, Sylvester Williams, asked the man about his prior testimony.

He said he has not been forced by his mother to change his story.

The witness told jurors at his dad's house there is cable, big TVs, games, movies, and "...they had it made over there."

Williams pointed out their dad was able to provide the girls with more material things than their mother was able to give them.

Taylor's son testified he never saw either of his sisters get duct taped.

He said his father was not there for him as much as his mother.

Herrington began asking the witness about a time when his mother threw his clothes out of the house.

Williams began asking the witness about school. The young man said his mom has never kept him from going to school and he is old enough to decide for himself if he's going to attend classes or not.

Vera Price, 84, the children's aunt, testified Taylor would bring her children to visit often.

She testified the three children had a lovely relationship with their mother.

"I feel very disappointed and very hurt to hear such things that she has done to those kids," she testified. "Those kids were her life and she struggled with them by herself lots of times…I think she's a great mother and I think anyone that says she's not, I think they're wrong,"

She said it's a disgrace for Taylor to not see her children for such a long time. The witness told Herrington she had never been to Taylor's house.

The witness said she doesn't think she's ever seen the children in shorts, but then she said she never really paid that much attention.

A custodial supervisor for Lufkin ISD was called to the stand. She testified that Taylor used to work for her and she's seen all three children with Taylor.

"They seem like mother and kids," she said. "They would all come in there with her and they would be talking and laughing."

The woman testified Taylor no longer has her job because of the charges brought against her, but that could change if she's cleared of the charges.

The witness told jurors she never saw any marks on the children that were out of the ordinary, but she could not testify to what was going on inside the Taylor home because she was not there.

The defense called Taylor's former neighbor, Loretta Robins, to the stand Wednesday afternoon.

She said she rarely saw Taylor's son go to school and she said all the children were normally home during school hours and their mother usually was at work.

"I often wondered why they were always home and not at school," said Robins.

The witness said she called Lufkin and Hudson ISD to report that the children were not in school.

She explained that there was only a wall separating her apartment from Taylor's apartment.

"We could hear pretty well what went on," she said.

Robins said she never heard anything out of the ordinary go on next door.

She said she used to allow her children to play with Taylor's children until she discovered the defendant's kids would lie and steal.

The state called Johanna Curry, the Angelina County assistant county attorney, to the stand. She handles the misdemeanor family violence cases, including protective orders. She testified that she had watched Taylor's son underline parts of a statement he gave to investigators that were true.

Robert Cheshire was called back to the stand. He is a former CPS employee that worked on the Taylor case.

He began reading his notes from an interview he conducted with Taylor's son.

"He says his mother beat him with an extension cord and broom handles," the man read.

The witness testified Taylor's son told CPS workers that their hands, feet, and mouth were bound with duct tape. Also, Taylor's son apparently called 911 after seeing his mother hit his sisters with an extension cord, according to court testimony.

The state and defense rested and closed at 2:15 p.m.

Jurors were read a 20-page charge by Angelina County District Judge Barry Bryan.

In closing arguments, prosecuting attorney Julie Alston reminded the jurors they are the sole judges of the facts in this case.

She told jurors this case falls in April which is Child Abuse Awareness month.

They can find Taylor not guilty, Alston said. However, if the jurors find Taylor guilty, they have several options from first- to third-degree felonies. Much of it has to do with if she did it intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly caused bodily injury, or if she caused serious mental deficiencies or impairments as a result of their injuries.

Alston told jurors one of Taylor's daughters has considered suicide and reminded them that testimony revealed she had post-traumatic stress disorder.

The defendant faces several counts of injury to a child and unlawful restraint for binding her children's hands and feet with duct tape, Alston said.

"You have the power to make that decision and it's a difficult decision," said Alston.

Alston said the defense is going to try to make the case that the children were plotting against their mother. However, she urged the jurors to look at the dates the children reported the abuse and how the children were separated often since they stayed at different houses.

Alston pleaded with the jurors to remember Taylor's daughters' testimony.

"How much they still love their mother, and why would they plot such a thing against their own mother?" said Alston as she choked back tears.

Defense attorney Kamisha Mickey pointed out that her client is not the monster that the children have made her out to be.

She went on to tell the jury that Taylor isn't on trial for not sending her children to school.

Mickey said the children's stories became more heinous and more varied each time they spoke.

She pointed out that the children claimed they were beaten four to five times a week, but no one ever saw the marks and the children wore short sleeves and shorts. The lawyer said the children made multiple trips to the doctor, but no physician ever noted abusive marks on the children.

"This is nothing more than a he-said, she-said," said Mickey.

"The picture painted of Kathy Taylor is a false picture," said Williams, another attorney for Taylor. "If you have reasonable doubt, hold on to that doubt, don't let it go."

The state began addressing the jurors for the last time.

Alston pointed out the defense theory that the children wanted to live with their dad because they had more privileges there. She said it doesn't make sense because they were not going to school at their mom's house and they exchanged that for their father's structured home where they are made to attend classes.

"These children suffered tremendous abuse," said Alston.

The state said the pressure in this case has been from Taylor.

"My heart goes out to these kids for what they've been through," said Alston.

The prosecuting attorney said she's not sure why Taylor's family did nothing when her daughter claims she punched her in the face.

"They're a do-nothing family, the Kathy Taylor family," said Alston, looking out to those in the courtroom.

The state said there's been no custody dispute.

"There's no way for me to convey what courage it took for those girls to come up here and testify," said Alston. She asked that the jurors have that same courage.

"Don't let what has been hidden in darkness stay in the darkness any longer," said Alston.

If Taylor is found guilty, the jury will assess her punishment.

The jury began deliberating at 3:50 p.m.

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