Attorneys and a 3rd District judge continued Thursday to select a jury that will decide whether Von L. Taylor receives the death penalty.
Earlier this month, Taylor, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of capital murder for the shooting deaths of a Texas woman and her blind mother from Murray. Prosecutors dropped seven other felony charges against him in exchange for the guilty pleas.The jury will hear evidence about the murders during the penalty hearing and will decide between a life sentence and the death penalty.
Unlike a trial, prosecutors can present evidence about other crimes he was charged with and his past criminal record.
Character witnesses are also often called during penalty phases to testify about mitigating circumstances, including the defendant's childhood. Taylor himself is expected to take the stand and discuss his crimes.
Co-defendant Edward S. Deli, 22, was charged with the same crimes but was convicted Tuesday on two reduced counts of second degree murder. He will be sentenced next month.
Both men escaped from a prison halfway house on Dec. 14. Taylor had been paroled to a halfway house after serving a prison sentence for aggravated burglary. He was arrested in 1989 in Washington County after a homeowner wrestled a gun away from him and held him until police arrived.
Deli had been paroled following an aggravated arson conviction.
The two men allegedly burglarized several cabins in the Beaver Springs area in Summit County on Dec. 21 and apparently stayed the night in the cabin of Rolf Tiede. Linae Tiede testified that at one point Deli told her he had had a "restless night's sleep because I had to keep waking up to make sure nobody was coming."
During a February hearing, Deli's attorney referred to testimony that is expected to come out during Taylor's penalty hearing. Investigators apparently traced a phone call made that day from the Tiede cabin to the halfway house where the men escaped.
Taylor allegedly told the person on the other end that he was planning on burglarizing some cabins and would then wait for someone to show up, kill them and then take their car. That is precisely what Taylor and Deli did.