LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's been over a two year waiting period, but the murder trial of Richard Taylor started Monday morning.
Taylor is accused of murdering his wife Shirley Taylor back on October 31, 2013. According to the Lufkin Police Department, Taylor stabbed his wife at her apartment at the Ministry in Action Living Center. Taylor was arrested later that same day by Corrigan Police.
At the time of the incident, Lufkin Detective J.B. Smith said Smith said Richard Taylor was visiting his wife, Shirley Taylor at the living center. Another family member was at the home, and he or she heard a commotion in the other room. Smith said the family member told police that Shirley Taylor screamed that her husband was trying to kill her.
Further investigation revealed that Richard Taylor was on parole when he allegedly stabbed his wife. Jason Clark, the public information director for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said that Richard Taylor was released on parole on July 29, 2013.
TDCJ records indicate that Richard Taylor has five felony convictions on his record. The most recent one was an aggravated assault out of Houston County. For that crime, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Richard Taylor was also convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, aggravated assault, and aggravated assault with a deadly in Angelina County on April 1, 1992. He received three concurrent 10-year sentences, meaning that he served them at the same time, for those charges.
On Nov. 17, 1987, Richard Taylor was convicted in Harris County for aggravated sexual assault of a 25-year-woman. He received an 8-year sentence for that felony, according to TDCJ records.
State Prosecuting attorney Katrina Carswell opened up by stating during the nine years of marriage, Shirley and Richard only lived together for a short time. Carswell then described the events that led up to the alleged stabbing. Carswell pointed out that Shirley Taylor told a Lufkin officer that her husband Richard had stabbed her after they had an argument.
Carswell also said Richard knew he had done wrong, by the fact that he ran out the back door and fled towards Corrigan.
Defense attorney Al Charanza told the jury this is a difficult case. Charanza said it is true that Shirley Taylor had a care giver but it is also true that Richard Taylor cared for her and came by and spent time with her.
Charanza said the evidence will show that Richard left before the murder happened and that he already had plans to travel to Houston. Charanza said Richard did not abandon his car but that the car broke down.
"It is tragic that she had been deceased for two years, but he is not the man," Charanza said.
The first witness to testify was Kevonda Washington. Washington is a certified nursing assistant.
Washington was an assistant for Shirley who suffered from several health issues, but she was also her niece. Washington said at the time of the alleged stabbing, she had known Richard for about three years.
Washington said that she had seen the two argue about money, relationships with other people, and sex. Washington said on that day, she saw Richard Taylor with a cup of beer. She added they were eating.
Washington said she was given a list of things to do and left the home for awhile. Washington said when she came back she could hear Shirley in the bedroom screaming in panic.
"What I heard was, 'Kevonda help me, he is trying to kill me," Washington said.
Washington continued to describe what she heard saying, Richard said no he is not and Shirley then said, "No, I'm serious he is trying to kill me."
"I said, 'Y'all stop,'" Washington said. "Something told me not to go in there and I said, 'Okay,' so I left out to get help."
Washington said she went outside and saw her uncle at the nearby store and yelled for him to come and help. Washington said when they went back inside and saw the back end of Richard going out the back door.
"I went to the door and I saw her laying down and holding her side, and that's when I left," Washington said. "I was freaking out and went out and called 911."
Washington said that Shirley was naked and had no clothing on at all. Carswell showed photographs of the room to Washington, who said some items were not where they normally were.
Washington would then tell Charanza that Shirley was getting ready for a Halloween party and putting a costume together.
Washington said even though she knew who Richard Taylor was, she had only physically met him about three months prior to the stabbing. Washington said at the time she met him, he was employed at Pilgrim's Pride.
"They might have argued, but they never got physical," Washington said. "She would be straight out. She would just tell you."
Washington told Charanza that when she got back to the home she thought something was wrong but was never told.
"I went outside and yelled. 'Uncle Laddy, come over here he is trying to stab Aunt Shirley,'" Washington said.
Carswell asked if Washington was certain it was Richard Taylor. Washington said she was positive.
Charanza then brought up an application for employment where she had to put down three people she was not related to and she put down Shirley and another person she was related to.
"I did that because I just moved here and did not know anyone," Washington said. "I wanted to put something down instead of nothing."
The afternoon session of testimony started with Jacqueline Hale. Hale worked in the communications department with the Lufkin Police Department when the stabbing was said to take place. Hale was the dispatcher that answered the 911 call from Williams.
The caller stated that someone just tried to kill her aunt.
"She's bleeding," the caller stated. "I don't know [from where]."
The caller was identified as Washington.
Washington stated she thought Taylor was heading towards his sister's home.
Evelyn Hood then described her interaction with police two years ago. Hood said she noticed a man she called strange, and he was asking for a ride. Hood said she believed he was suspicious.
"He seemed a little nervous or tense," Hood said. "He kept trying to get us to help him get to Houston."
Hood said he was demanding and not asking for help. Hood said he was agitated.
Hood said she went back inside, and when she had a break, she called the police.
"When he approached me he had on an outfit and then when he came back out he had a different outfit on," Hood said. "He also said he was going to Houston but he headed north on the highway."
Hood said when police came by they showed her pictures, and she was able to identify the person in the photos as who she believed to be Taylor.
Hood said this whole process took about an hour.
Former Corrigan police officer James Hight then describe his interaction with Taylor. Hight said Hood was the first person he spoke to.
"She said he told her he was broken down and seemed out of place," Hight said. "She gave us a description that matched the one that Lufkin Police told us about."
Hight said after the Corrigan Police Department took in Taylor, his officer had little contact since he requested his lawyer.
Hight told Charanza that Taylor was taken into custody by another officer. Hight said it was about a three-hour period, based off of when they brought him in and when the cell phone was pinged. Hight said he was magistrate in Corrigan just on the aggravated assault charge that was originally put out.