If Sherron King could ask one thing of the man who killed her daughter, it would be for a confession before he's executed next month.
"I would have more respect for him," she said, "if I thought he showed any remorse."But, she adds, "I know that (an admission) is not a possibility."
John Albert Taylor is condemned to die Jan. 26 for raping and killing her 11-year-old daughter Charla Nicole King. He has consistently and adamantly denied killing her.
Christmas - and her birthday - were Charla King's favorite holidays, and every yuletide season is difficult for Sherron King. But this year and this Christmas have been especially painful as media attention again focuses on her, her daughter and the man who killed Charla.
Three weeks ago Taylor asked his attorney to end appeals of his case just days after he lost a fight for a new trial. Taylor said he was tired of court battles and tired of living in lockup 23 hours a day. A judge scheduled an execution date that is now less than a month away.
Much of the attention has focused on Taylor and the method of death he chose. In Utah, the condemned have a choice between lethal injection and firing squad. He picked the latter.
There has been a lot of discussion, both locally and nationally, about the method and whether it's too barbaric or too inhumane for modern society. Such criticism has angered King.
Noticeably absent in the debate has been mention of her daughter and the way she was killed. King found Charla dead in their Ogden apartment June 23, 1989 - just one day before her 12th birthday.
"I came home from work late this time," she recalls, "because I took the wrong way. I though it would be faster, but I ran into a traffic jam."
King opened the locked door expecting to greet her daughter. They'd been fighting about housework, something they both hated to do.
"I saw her key laying on the side of the (end table). I thought, `That's funny; the door was locked. Why would she lock herself out?'
"I remember how quiet it was. You could hear a pin drop, it was so quiet. I yelled at her, thinking maybe she's there and I just don't see her but nobody answered. . . . I turned on the TV and walked back toward my bedroom to change out of my work clothes."
That's where she found Charla, lying naked on her bed.
"My nightgown was wrapped around her face," King said, her voice cracking with emotion. "I could see her feet were black. I think I started screaming."
To this day, it bothers the 47-year-old Brigham City native that her neighbors heard both Charla's screams - and her own after she found the body - but did nothing.
"I called 911 but I couldn't talk," she said. "I pulled her off the bed (to administer CPR) . . . I don't think she wanted to come back. I think what had happened to her was so horrible that she couldn't deal with it."
King saw blood on the bed and even before authorities told her, she knew her little girl had been raped. Charla, she said, "spoke to my heart and told me what happened."
As paramedics took Charla's body away, a police officer told Sherron King that the girl was dead.
King called her stepfather from the hospital. He picked her up, and she returned to her Washington Terrace Apartment, only to move out within the next few days.
Instead of taking her daughter to Lagoon for her birthday as she'd planned, Sherron King buried her daughter the Wednesday after she was killed.
Two days later Taylor was arrested for the killing. His fingerprints were found on the telephone from which the cord was taken and used to strangle Charla. He said he was in the apartment only to steal money, which he said was under the telephone.
Taylor was staying with his sister who lived in the apartment complex. She testified against him at trial.
In the year after Charla's death, Sherron King also dealt with the death of a niece and her stepfather, living "an emotional roller coaster."
"I had more emotions than Carter had peanuts," she said. "I was mad at God . . . the world . . . myself. I just couldn't understand why all of this happened to me.
"I wasn't doing so well," she said. "I prayed to God to take the hate from my heart."
It was at the end of that year she dreamed her daughter came to visit her. King doesn't remember seeing anything, but she did hear and talk to Charla. When it was time for her to go, Charla told her mother she'd have to go alone.
"She said, `I have to stay. I'm happy here.' She was telling me I had to let go. That hurt so bad. . . . A lot of times I picture her in God's arms. That's how I see it."
King doesn't look at snapshots of her daughter very often. It's still too painful. She also tries very hard not to remember the way her daughter looked when she found her.
When she does look at pictures, she picks ones that show a happy, outgoing and enthusiastic little girl and remembers the times they had together.
"She was raised an only child," King said. "But she was never selfish. She'd give stuff away that was kind of hard to replace. I had to tell her . . . you cannot be everyone's guardian angel."
Charla King was drawn to the elderly and befriended the lonely. An advocate for the underdog, her daughter never lacked for friends but always wanted more, King said.
"I miss her so bad," she said after relating a story about how much Charla King wanted a canopy bed. "She was my world."
The soft-spoken woman has gone on living despite sometimes wishing she didn't have to. To cope with the holiday season, Sherron King buys for a needy child all the gifts she would have bought for Charla.
"It's my way of giving her Christmas," she said.
Another thing that's helped King get on with living is learning how not to loathe Taylor.
"Years went by. . . . I realized I didn't hate him anymore, and it surprised me. I thought, `Maybe I'm losing it.' "
King said she feels sorry for Taylor and his family.Comment on this story
"I don't think he's thought of the ramifications of his own actions," she said. "They're going to have to go through his death and that's the sad part. . . . I don't think he realizes how much hurt he's caused. I think he needs to be pitied."
Though King would like a confession, a show of remorse, she says she doesn't want to know the details of her daughter's death. And while she has mixed feelings about Taylor's impending execution, she believes he needs to die.
"He has to pay the price for what he did. He's the type who would kill again."