On Dec. 22 at 9:47 a.m., Von L. Taylor called a friend to brag.
Taylor said he and a friend had broken into a cabin in Summit County and he was going to shoot some people."He told me he was going to waste them all." That's the word of Scott Manly, who took the stand of the Summit County courtroom Tuesday during the penalty phase hearing for Taylor. A 12-member jury will decide whether Taylor will spend his life in prison or be executed for the shootings of Beth Potts, 76, and her daughter Kaye Tiede, 49.
Taylor confessed to the Dec. 22 shoot-ings on May 1. His co-defendant, Edward S. Deli, was convicted last week of reduced counts of second-degree murder.
Manly was a resident of the Fremont Correctional Center of West Valley City when Taylor called him, Manly told Summit County sheriff's Detective Joseph Offret.
Manly took the stand but refused to answer questions, saying he was afraid of becoming a prison snitch. "It's a threat to my life," he said. "If I rat what I know, I ain't going to make it in the joint."
Instead, Summit County Attorney Robert Adkins played a tape of Manly's conversation with Offret, which took place on Dec. 26.
According to the taped conversation, Manly said he met Taylor two months earlier at a halfway house. In the phone call, Taylor said he had escaped with a friend, that they possessed guns and that they were at a cabin in Summit County near one his parents owned.
Taylor told Manly that he could hear his friend shooting weapons in the background. "It sounded like he was having a good time shooting up the house and stuff," Manly told the detective.
"He told me he wanted to kill some people and it just tripped my mind." Taylor told Manly he was going to wait for the family to show up, kill them and steal their car. Then he planned to drive to West Valley City to pick up Manly so the group could flee to New York.
"He wants power," Manly said of Taylor, when questioned by the detective. "He will shoot someone."
Manly said he was afraid of Taylor and didn't want to testify against him. "I don't want to go to court because he can get ahold of my people."
The penalty phase comes after a controversial verdict was returned last week in the trial of Deli, Taylor's co-defendant. Jurors deliberated for 12 1/2 hours.
Early on, after reviewing the evidence presented during the four-day trial, most of the jury agreed Deli was guilty of attempted homicide. But one juror said he wouldn't convict him on that charge, so the group agreed to break for the evening, to sleep on it.
The next day the juror changed his mind, jury forewoman Tamara Martinez, said in a phone interview Tuesday morning. But after more than 12 hours of deliberations, the same juror still wouldn't agree to first-degree murder charges.
The return of a lesser conviction haunts Martinez. She's frustrated knowing 10 of her jury colleagues felt the same as she did.
"You have to wonder. If we would have slept one more night, would he have changed his mind again? But he was getting mean and nasty, thinking we were trying to pressure him.
"I think something told all of us it was going to get worse in that room."
The panel, instead, returned a verdict that Deli was guilty of two lesser charges of second-degree murder in the December slayings of Tiede, of Humble, Texas, and her mother, Potts, of Murray.
Deli's conviction on lesser charges means he will receive a life prison sentence instead of death. His sentencing is scheduled June 3.
Monday, Deli, 22, sent a letter to KUTV television, saying he was sorry for the killings. "I didn't kill those women, but I am truely (sic) sorry I wouldn't do anything to help them, & I'm truely sorry for what Von and I did."
In media interviews, the holdout juror said he had a reasonable doubt, based on lack of evidence, about whether Deli actually killed anyone or knowingly aided the killings.
"The criticisms made by the holdout juror were not really valid. I think the prosecution did a wonderful job," Martinez said. She wouldn't speculate on the holdout juror's reasoning but questioned why he was interviewed. "I'm not sure what the purpose of running his side of the story was other than giving him publicity."
The jury considered admitting they couldn't reach a unanimous verdict, returning a hung jury that would require a new trial. But the panel determined from the legal instructions that if they couldn't reach a decision they had to consider the lesser charges, Martinez said.
After the trial ended last week, Martinez said, her sleep was disrupted. She would toss and turn and then wake up thinking she was still in court rather than in bed.
Martinez felt the jury should have had a simpler task: returning a verdict of guilty or not guilty on the first-degree murder charges, instead of being required to consider the lesser charges.
She suggests the law be changed. In a democracy, maybe one person's vote in a sequestered jury room shouldn't have the power to change the course of the judicial process. Maybe attorneys need more training to select jury members that will cooperate with each other.
"The law says innocent until proven guilty. But I walked away from a trial this week knowing beyond a reasonable doubt that Edward Steven Deli was guilty of first-degree murder and that I had returned a verdict of a lesser charge," Martinez wrote in a letter to the editor of the Deseret News.
And in a related matter, 3rd District Judge Frank Noel agreed to release a list of jurors' names to the media but only after the second jury decides on Taylor's sentence.
Attorney Patrick Shea filed the motion on behaf five local media organizations. "In this instance, there is a very strong case to be made (that) the information being sought is in the public interest," Shea argued. "The freedoms we enjoy that the free press provides us are not without cost."