Seven years have passed since Greg Taylor became the first man to be declared innocent of murder in North Carolina as part of what was then a fledgling process unique to the state.
On Wednesday, Taylor’s case and the many issues it highlighted about the potential for injustices in the justice system, will be the subject of The News & Observer’s second Community Voices forum.
The two-hour forum, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Witherspoon Student Center on the N.C. State campus, will include a screening of “In Pursuit of Justice: How Criminal Justice Reform in N.C. Freed Greg Taylor,” a 90-minute production by Winston-Salem filmmaker Gregg Jamback. The campus center at 2810 Cates Ave. is a change of location from where the event initially was scheduled.
There will be a panel discussion afterward that includes the filmmaker, Mumma, and Mandy Locke, The N&O staff writer who reported on the case and 2010 Innocence Inquiry Commission hearings.
“Finding ways to improve and protect the judicial system begins with studying where the process went awry,” says Ned Barnett, The N&O’s editorial page editor overseeing the Community Voices project. “Taylor’s experience is the kind of bad case that provides good lessons.”
Taylor was convicted in 1993 of the murder of a woman whose body was found about 100 yards from where Taylor’s SUV got stuck on the edge of downtown Raleigh. Prosecutors cited evidence tested by the State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab to claim that the victim’s blood was found inside the wheel well of Taylor’s vehicle.
A post-conviction review revealed lab notes from the time of Taylor’s trial that showed the substance on the vehicle was not human blood. That same review also found that key evidence had been kept from defense attorneys at the trial.
The commission, a state agency established in 2006 to investigate and weigh post-conviction claims of innocence, considered evidence in the Taylor case and issued an unusual declaration of innocence.
The Community Voices forum, which took up topics related to the Women’s March last month, is free and open to the public. Those planning to attend are encouraged to register at nando.com/communityvoices.