Jurors will be able to hear Courtney Taylor’s nearly 90-minute statement to police from her hospital bed in part explaining why she killed her husband and her two daughters.
Part of the reason she killed her husband was that she blamed him in part 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 July hearing.
Special Judge Jeffrey Burdette recently issued an order overruling a request by defense attorneys to have that statement suppressed as evidence.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, the Defendant understood her rights and made a deliberate choice to cooperate with the police by making a voluntary statement. The Court finds that her waiver was a product of a free and deliberate choice and was made with a full awareness both of the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it,” Burdette wrote in his Oct, 3 ruling.
Taylor, 43, is charged with 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. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in her case.
She is currently scheduled to stand trial on March 2 in Whitley Circuit Court.
On July 17, 2019, Burdette held a four-hour hearing over the suppression motion, which sought to bar the Jan. 16, 2017, statement to police.
Defense lawyers argued that Taylor was incapacitated by medication after surgery, which made her statements to police involuntary.
Defense lawyers also argued that because of her incapacitation by medication, Taylor didn’t have the capacity to knowingly and voluntarily waive her Miranda rights against giving self-incriminating statements to police.
Dr. Eljorn Don Nelson, a professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Cincinnati, testified on behalf of the defense that drugs, such as ones that were prescribed to Taylor, affect executive functioning like various degrees of complex decision making, planning and higher thought processes.
Nelson testified about various drugs administered to Taylor at various points in her treatment at University of Kentucky Healthcare, including: general anesthesia, oxycodone, diazepam, gabapentin, cyclobenzaprine, fentanyl and propofol.
Nelson stated in his opinion that each of those medications individually would negatively affect brain function, and the interaction between them would produce a higher effect.
On cross-examination, Nelson admitted that he had not personally examined Taylor and his opinions were based on general studies and not Taylor specifically.
Burdette noted in his order that there is no evidence that the police exploited Taylor’s mental state in order to obtain a statement or confession.
“It is the Commonwealth’s burden to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the confession was voluntary, and that burden has been met. Under the totality of the circumstances, this Court finds that Ms. Taylor was in sufficient possession of her faculties to make a reliable statement. Because she was alert and spoke on her free will, Ms. Taylor’s statement was knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently made and will not be suppressed,” Burdette wrote in his order.