John Albert Taylor said he wants to stop his appeal process and die by firing squad for a murder he said he didn't commit.
Via telephone from the Utah State Prison last week, Taylor said he has written a letter to his defense attorney, Martin Gravis, to inform him that he wants the appeals to end."I've only had four good nights of sleep since I've been here," said Taylor in a soft, flat voice. "My nerves are shot. I told you that one day I would get out of bed and say it's over. Today's that day."
Taylor said he has constant headaches and he doesn't believe his conviction or sentence will be overturned. He said he now has to face the inevitable.
The 32-year-old death-row inmate was scheduled to die Jan. 15 for the murder June 23, 1989, of 11-year-old Charla King.
The girl had been sexually assaulted and strangled with a telephone cord in her Washington Terrace, Weber County, apartment. Taylor's fingerprints were discovered on the bottom of the telephone found inside a bedroom where the victim lay.
Charla's mother, Sharron King, found her dead daughter after returning from work. The two had planned to go to Lagoon the following day to celebrate Charla's 12th birthday.
Second District Judge David Roth presided over both the trial and punishment phases, and he had rendered the death penalty against the Ogden man. In October, the Utah Supreme Court upheld both the conviction and the sentence.
Gravis has filed a stay of execution with the state's highest court, and he was planning to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Ogden attorney has been out of town and unavailable for comment.
In November, Roth scheduled a Jan. 15 execution, and most people in the courtroom were surprised when Taylor asked to die by firing squad rather than lethal injection.
Just five days before Taylor was scheduled to die, Roth granted a stay of execution.
In a letter he wrote dated Jan. 21, 1992, Taylor lists three reasons he chose the firing squad.
"To be strapped to a table and injected full of drugs leaves me with a feeling of helplessness; because I am innocent of the crime for which I was convicted of. Anyway, if my execution is carried out, it will be a murder. Granted, it may be legally sanctioned, but, nonetheless, murder it will be, and the firing squad is my way of showing that point; and because of the cost and the inconvenience it will cause the state because they are not really prepared for an execution by firing squad."
In correspondence during the past two years and in an interview at the Utah State Prison in Draper last month, Taylor has continued to maintain his innocence. He admitted to being in the apartment, but only to commit a burglary. He said he believes he knows who killed the young girl but thus far has declined to reveal the name.
Born in Ogden on June 6, 1959, to Albert and Gaylene Taylor, his parents split up when he was a baby, he said. His family moved to Colorado when he was 9 years old, and he moved to Ogden to live with his grandmother in 1974.
He then moved to Florida, and he said he was arrested in 1979 for carrying a concealed weapon and burglary. He was paroled in December 1981 and arrested again in March 1982 and charged with armed robbery, armed burglary and sexual battery.
One month later, he was sent back to a Florida prison for a parole violation, and he said he was acquitted of the sexual battery in September 1982.
Six years later he was released and he moved back to Utah because he discovered the father he once was told had died was alive and well and living in Utah. About six months later, he was arrested for King's murder.
Albert Taylor sat through most of his son's capital-murder trial. But when the trial was over and John Taylor was sent to Utah's death row, he never saw his father again. Albert Taylor died from heart failure on Oct. 8, 1990. John Taylor said he was not allowed to attend his father's funeral.
"He (Albert) was a decent man," said Taylor. "He loved his family. He would listen to his children and help them when he could. He had good understanding. From all I saw, my father was a good man.
"But while I was growing up, I was told so many stories about him that I've come to learn were all lies," Taylor said. "My father was being painted a villain when he really wasn't one. I've come to learn that the real villain was my mother."
Taylor said he hasn't seen his mother since 1988, and they don't write to each other. "There's just too much bad blood between us," he said, with a soft Southern accent.
The condemned man now spends most of his time in prison sketching, writing poetry, doing puzzles and exercising. He said he has a spiritual side to him and he believes in reincarnation.Comment on this story
"I believe there's a higher power. I do believe there is a supreme being, a supreme power," he continued. "I believe I'll come back as something better."
But for now, Taylor said, he is just biding his time waiting to die. He said if he had the choice of execution or life in prison without parole, he'd take execution.
"I think they (state) are going to kill me. I'm angry. I'll die for something I didn't do," he said. "They might as well put a bullet in me. I don't want to live or die (from natural causes) in prison."