Courtney Taylor, who is serving three sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2017 killings of her husband and two teenage daughters, has gotten her wish and was been transferred out of the Whitley County Detention Center about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
On Feb. 19, 2020, Courtney Taylor, 45, entered an Alford plea to three counts of capital murder in the Jan 13, 2017, shooting deaths of her husband, Larry Taylor, 56, and her two daughters, Jesse Taylor, 18, and Jolee Taylor, 13.
An Alford plea means that a defendant still maintains their innocence but acknowledges that prosecutors likely have enough evidence to convict them at trial.
On Nov. 16, Taylor’s attorney, assistant public advocate Audrey Woosnam, filed a motion to have Taylor transferred to a Kentucky Department of Corrections facility, noting that state law prohibited having her housed in the local jail more than 45 days after her final sentencing hearing.
Special Judge Jeffrey Burdette issued an order on Dec. 10 requiring the Kentucky Department of Corrections to transfer Taylor to a department of corrections facility “forthwith.”
On Jan. 5, Woosnam filed a motion to hold the department of corrections in contempt of court for not transferring Taylor, and a virtual court hearing that was held via Zoom Monday morning.
Allison Brown, an attorney with the Kentucky Department of Corrections, conceded that Taylor hadn’t been moved to a department of corrections facility within 45 days.
She explained the reason for this was COVID-19 even though this isn’t technically a legally sufficient reason for Taylor not being moved.
Taylor’s sentencing took place in late June about the time the department quit transferring prisoners due to COVID-19 in order to keep from spreading the virus between facilities.
Since then, the no transfer policy has been lifted, but the department of corrections now has a large backlog that it is trying to get caught up on, Brown said.
Brown explained during Monday’s hearing that she only became aware of Burdette’s Dec. 10 order Friday.
“I immediately contacted KCIW (Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women). They are working on getting her moved this week,” Brown said Monday morning.
Over Woosnam’s objection, Burdette held the Kentucky Department of Corrections in contempt of court, but ruled that the department could purge itself of the contempt order by transferring Taylor to a state prison within 10 days, which it did Tuesday morning.
Woosnam noted that the department of corrections had a repeated pattern of failing to comply with rules to transfer inmates within 45 days of their final sentencing hearing.
Burdette noted that he was interested in one particular case on Monday though.
Only state prisoners classified as class ‘C’ or class ‘D’ felons qualify to serve their sentences in county jails.
Class ‘D’ felonies are only punishable by up to five years, and include offenses, such as fourth-offense DUI and flagrant non-support.
Class ‘C’ felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and include crimes, such as second-degree burglary, and unauthorized use of a credit card involving $10,000 or more.
Part of the reason Taylor killed her husband was that she blamed him for going through most of her more than $250,000 worker’s compensation settlement in a few months although the money was in an account in her name only, according to a portion of her statement to police that was played in open court during a hearing.