St. Louis County prosecutors will not intervene in the case of a man who pleads not guilty and whose execution date is next week.
Leonard Taylor is expected to die by lethal injection Feb. 7 in a jail in eastern Missouri. The 58-year-old was convicted in 2004 of the quadruple murder of his girlfriend and three children, but he claims he was across the country when they were killed.
His attorneys had sent his case to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office for review of his claims of innocence.
Prosecutor Wesley Bell said Monday his office will not file a motion to vacate Taylor’s conviction.
“The facts are not there to support a credible case of innocence,” Bell said in a statement.
Kent Gipson, a lawyer for Taylor, said he was disappointed, but not surprised.
“Anytime you’re dealing with a political actor and the death penalty, you expect this kind of thing,” said Gipson, a longtime capital cases attorney.
He said Taylor had been notified of Bell’s decision but remains optimistic.
The prosecutor’s office said it would support a stay of execution so the victims’ time of death could be further investigated.
Gipson said they are preparing that motion for a stay and expect it to be filed on Tuesday. The case would then be in the hands of the Missouri Supreme Court.
Last week, Taylor also filed a clemency application with Governor Mike Parson’s office.
Time of death
On November 26, 2004, Taylor flew to California to meet one of his daughters for the first time.
Eight days later, the bodies of his girlfriend Angela Rowe and her sons Alexus Conley, 10, Acqreya Conley, 6, and Tyrese Conley, 5, were found murdered in their home in Jennings, near St. Louis.
Autopsies initially indicated that the murders occurred two or three days before the bodies were found, which would have eliminated Taylor as the killer.
But at the trial, St. Louis County coroner Phillip Burch told jurors that the temperature in the house had been in the 50s, which led to the estimated time of death being changed. The murders may have occurred two or three weeks before the bodies were discovered, when Taylor would still have been in town.
In an affidavit signed Wednesday less than two weeks before the execution date, forensic pathologist Jane Turner questioned the coroner’s determination of the time of death. There was evidence of rigor mortis when the victims were discovered. This would not have lasted more than a week after the death, even with the cold temperature in the house, according to Turner. There were no other postmortem changes that would have occurred a week or more after death.
This meant that the condition of the bodies suggested the victims were killed after Taylor left town.
In addition to Taylor’s alibi, his lawyers say police failed to investigate other suspects, including gang members who were looking for Taylor following a botched drug deal.