Prison informant’s lie about Brittany Drexel changed Timothy Taylor’s life forever

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – For years, the public believed that Timothy Taylor was involved in the abduction, sexual assault, murder and dumping of a missing teenager in an alligator pit.

The problem is that none of this was true.

“The case of Timothy Taylor is indeed tragic, but it is not uncommon,” said Eli Menegakis, the company’s founder and CEO. South Carolina for criminal justice reform.

The FBI has named Taylor a person of interest to the Britney Drexel case in 2016 after a prison informant said Taylor killed and raped her. Drexel, a 17-year-old girl from Rochester, New York, was vacationing in Myrtle Beach when she went missing in 2009.

Her body was found earlier this month in a wooded area in Georgetown County after officials said Raymond Moody confessed to kidnapping, raping and then strangling Drexel to death.

Taylor’s team reiterated that he was innocent from the start, saying Taylor, who was then 16, was in the classroom at the time of the crime. Documents published in 2018 showed that he did not pass the polygraph test, which is known to be unreliable and is generally not allowed to be presented as evidence in court.

Taylor, who had already served his sentence after being charged with robbery at the state level, was then charged at the federal level with the same crime. His lawyers suggested that he was charged with additional charges because the FBI wanted him to drop information about Drexel’s disappearance in exchange for a milder sentence.

He has never been charged with Drexel’s disappearance.

Taylor’s mother said she lost her job, that the family received death threats and that the charges cost them emotionally and financially.

Asked by News13 whether Taylor was still involved, the FBI said that “the man we believe is responsible for Britain’s murder has been charged” and that it must follow all indications.

Although Taylor’s name was cleared, “the damage was done,” This was stated at a press conference last week by Taylor’s mother.

“His name and face will forever be associated with Brittany Drexel because of lies,” she told a news conference. “This pain cannot be put into words. We do not feel relieved. We are angry that it took so long. “

False testimonies of a prison informant are not uncommon. According to the national nonprofit, nationally, about 21 percent of death row inmates were jailed informants, and 17 percent of DNA-based acquittals were convicted. The project of innocence.

Probably, this figure is even higher due to the fact that after the conviction, the burden was shifted to the defense to prove that their client is innocent.

“It’s an absolutely difficult battle, and once you get an illegal conviction, it’s incredibly difficult to overturn that sentence,” said Rebecca Brown, director of innocence.

She said the testimony of an informant in prison is often used as a filing when there is no evidence in a case, especially in courts about murder and the death penalty. She said it is an unregulated system where witnesses are encouraged to lie to get a lighter sentence or better prison conditions.

The Innocence project insists on a reform that includes the creation of databases so that officials can identify ordinary informants. A prisoner who has testified in several courts, Brown said, must raise eyebrows for both sides in the case. The tracking system will also help the defense investigate the credibility of witnesses.

According to her, one informant was sexually abused of children and testified in many cases of the death penalty.

But these testimonies are rarely given as part of a vendetta.

“I think most of the time you’re dealing with someone behind bars who’s trying to improve their conditions,” Brown said.

However, the jury does not know about it. These testimonies can also be a deciding factor in sentencing.

“I think informants can be very persuasive, especially if they didn’t get a deal in exchange for their testimony,” Brown said. “It happens after the trial, so they can seem like very reliable witnesses.”

Although in some cases this evidence can be decisive and reliable, it is not always, which, she said, underscores the need for reform.

“Tracking informants benefits the entire community, even the prosecution,” Brown said. “They don’t want to expose unreliable witnesses.”

Several other states have added nationwide tracking systems. Brown also suggests that law enforcement should focus on informants who share information that has not been made public, and that they will only know if the suspect told them.

When Joe McCulloch saw that Taylor’s name had been cleared, he sent the news to another lawyer as an example of a broken system. McCullough, who rules The Palmetto Innocence Project in South Carolina, saw the danger that ordinary prison informants could pose.

He points to a 1995 murder case in Lexington County, where B.J.’s death sentence was later overturned. Quattlebaum. “A professional prison informant” “has never been in trouble,” McCulloch said, and traded information in exchange for new teeth.

“People do not cooperate with the authorities from the pre-trial detention center because it is right,” he said. “They usually do it because they have been promised something, so they have been motivated or encouraged with the state in the hope of getting money, new teeth or, in some cases, a reduced sentence.”

Statistics from the project “Innocence” surprises him – because he considers these figures too low. He said this may be due to the fact that the defense must prove that the informant lied when the person was convicted.

These deals lead to an “open season of lies” because there are no consequences for untruths, he said.

With the idea “to catch a skunk you need a skunk”, he said it is difficult to find legislators who are responsive to the reforms.

He said prison informants should only be used if there is a combination of other types of evidence because those testimonies proved unreliable.

“The case with a lot of evidence is very different from the case built on the sand of a prison informant,” McCulloch said.

News13 asked the Taylor family to ask for further comments on the reform effort. A spokesman pointed to a statement made by Taylor’s mother during a press conference last week.

“I sincerely hope it never happens to another family,” Joan Taylor said at the time. “I urge law enforcement to stop the practice of disclosing unsubstantiated witnesses and the names of potential suspects without reliable evidence. This has implications in real life and a long-lasting, degrading effect for many, particularly black families. And we have suffered for so long from being falsely accused. “

Menegakis said the reform should also go from several sides. She said prisoners are being pressured to file charges, and with little chance of early release from prison or better conditions they may see lies as the only way out. Another factor that increases the likelihood of false testimony is the long wait to get to court.

If their name is published, then their lives are in danger. Menegakis said the lie also leads law enforcement to follow false clues.

It also affects the families of the victims, she said when announcing the name of the man without charge.

“This is not justice,” Menegakis said. “The family wants to know who actually did it. They want justice to be done, and it is not done if it is not the right person. “

Prison informant’s lie about Brittany Drexel changed Timothy Taylor’s life forever

Source link Prison informant’s lie about Brittany Drexel changed Timothy Taylor’s life forever