Published: Friday, Jan. 26 1996 12:00 a.m. MST

Once prosecutors named him as their prime suspect in the rape and slaying of an 11-year-old girl, John Albert Taylor said he knew he was going to die.

"I knew as soon as I was charged that I would be found guilty and receive the death penalty," he said in a letter written a couple of years ago."Even if I had F. Lee Bailey defending me, I was through."

Taylor continued to maintain his innocence until his death early Friday but said he always knew no one would believe him.

"I remember telling my father that whoever they arrested for this crime was history, and that was before my arrest," he said. "There is no sense in crying over spilled milk. What's done is done."

Taylor said he gave up his legal battles and agreed to let state officials carry out his death sentence because of his declining health and because of disappointment over the loss of two appeals.

The 36-year-old man could have died by lethal injection, but instead he chose the firing squad. In a letter dated Jan. 21, 1992, Taylor outlined his reasons for choosing the firing squad:

"To be strapped to a table and injected full of drugs leaves me with a feeling of helplessness.

"Because I'm innocent of the crime for which I was convicted of (and) if my execution is carried out, it will be 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 inconvenience it will cause the state because they are not really prepared for an execution by firing squad."

In December 1989, Taylor was convicted of the June 23, 1989, sexual assault and strangulation death of 11-year-old Charla Nicole King. The girl's body was found by her mother in their Washington Terrace apartment. She had been strangled with a telephone cord.

Taylor had continually maintained that he was alone in the apartment that day to commit a burglary. His fingerprints were found on the telephone.

He was never optimistic about winning his appeals. The Utah Supreme Court in 1992 upheld both his conviction and sentence. Then in October 1995, the high court ruled against his argument that he had ineffective counsel.

That's when he decided to fire his attorney, Ed Brass, and drop his appeals. Taylor said he was ready to die partly because he was discouraged with the courts and his failing health problems.

During a phone interview in December, Taylor said he had an enlarged heart, bleeding ulcers and swollen legs and feet. He said he was afraid his heart would give out on him while in prison.

"I don't want to die alone in my cell," he said. "Even though physically I'm starting to fall apart, mentally and emotionally, I'm still hanging in there."

The soft-spoken man, who speaks with a hint of a Southern accent, wrote in a June 19, 1991, letter: "I wish the Supreme Court would go ahead and make its decision and get it over with. If they decide against my appeal, which I believe they will, then it will end there.

"I decided when I first got to prison that I was only going to go with the mandatory appeal," Taylor continued.

"Even though I maintain my innocence, the death penalty would be more humane in my case. Even if they were to give me a life sentence, I would never again walk on the outside because unless I admit to this crime and show remorse, the Board of Pardons would never grant me a parole date. I'll never admit to something I had nothing to do with."

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