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Inmate Set to be Executed in February was 1,000 Miles Away From Murder He's Convicted For, Lawyers Say

Leonard Taylor might be spared from his scheduled February execution.

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Image for article titled Inmate Set to be Executed in February was 1,000 Miles Away From Murder He's Convicted For, Lawyers Say
Screenshot: Mississippi Department of Corrections

Attorneys for Leonard S. Taylor, a man sentenced to death in a quadruple murder from 2004, claim to have an alibi witness who can testify he wasn’t even near the crime when it happened: that’s 1,800 miles away, to be exact. According to AP News, the new evidence comes one month before his planned execution date.

Angela Rowe and her three kids were found dead inside their home in December of 2004. The report says Taylor, Rowe’s boyfriend, was not there but was arrested out-of-state a couple of days later. A jury convicted him of the quadruple murder in 2008 and he’s been awaiting execution ever since. His date was scheduled for Feb. 7.

However, Taylor’s attorneys filed a claim Friday that suggests Taylor wasn’t a runaway killer as the prosecution argued. Statements from Taylor’s daughter and her mother allege he could not have committed the murders because he was in California when the four were killed. In order for this Hail Mary to work, the prosecution would have to file a motion for a hearing before a judge if they have evidence that suggests a defendant could be innocent.

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Read more of the case from St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Taylor’s defense attorneys Kent Gipson and Kevin Schriener filed papers last Friday with the Conviction and Incident Review Unit in the prosecutor’s office.

Christopher King, a spokesman for the county prosecutor, said Monday that the office was reviewing the information from Taylor’s defense team.

Prosecutors have said that Taylor killed the family, admitted it in a phone call to his brother and fled to California. Taylor has claimed Rowe and the children were still alive when he boarded a flight from Lambert Field to Ontario, Calif., on the morning of Nov. 26, 2004.

The Missouri attorney general’s office, in response to some of Taylor’s appeals over the years, has said the case against Taylor is solid.

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Cell phone records, hand prints, and blood splatter on Taylor’s belongings were submitted as evidence when he was tried. Taylor’s family said they would have given their statements years ago if they were asked to speak up.

The report says Taylor, who is Muslim, didn’t testify at his trial and also barred the presentation of any witnesses during his penalty phase.

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“Only Allah can spare my life, only Allah gave me life. So if they impose a death sentence that means nothing to me, okay?” Taylor said to St. Louis County Circuit Judge James R. Hartenbach.

Well, it looks like Allah may have heard his prayers.