Woman gets 3 years for killing husband
A Gold Hill woman who fatally shot and stabbed her husband after suffering years of domestic abuse has pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to criminally negligent homicide.
Originally charged with murder, Wanda Lee Taylor, 43, was sentenced by Judge Ray White to three years in prison for killing Gill Edward Taylor, 46. As part of Monday's negotiated plea agreement, she must serve three years in post-prison supervision upon her release, said Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe.
"There's a reason this resolution was reached," said Hoppe, who has had experience prosecuting both domestic violence and child abuse cases as well as homicides.
On Sept. 14, 2007, Wanda Taylor dropped her children off at a friend's house with a note asking they be cared for if anything happened to her. Then she stopped at a gas station, drank a couple of beers and drove to their Ramsey Road home. At about 8:42 p.m., she called 9-1-1 operators and stated her husband needed medical attention.
Jackson County sheriff's deputies arrived to find Gill Taylor dead from multiple gunshot and stab wounds to his head and torso. Wanda Taylor was discovered injured and hiding in a culvert less than a mile from the home she had fled several days earlier.
Statements by the victim's mother, Betty Taylor, and his oldest son, Walker Taylor, depict a violent man who beat his wife and children, threatened to kill them, and had shot several of the family pets.
Betty Taylor spoke before the court in defense of her daughter-in-law. In her statement, she said her son began drinking heavily in high school, owned an arsenal of guns, and usually was armed. She urged Wanda Taylor to leave her son after witnessing him physically, emotionally and mentally abuse her throughout their 22-year marriage.
Walker Taylor, 19 at the time he made his statement in 2007, said his father regularly beat his mother and would threaten to kill them all if they ever left. The teen said his father beat him with barbed wire and chains and showed investigators his scars. When Walker was afraid to go hunting with him one day, Gill Taylor shot three of their dogs dead, one by one, until Walker agreed, the teen told investigators.
Walker said he almost killed his father himself while trying to defend his mother. But his father fired off a shot between their heads when he discovered his son's plan.
"He was so scary," Walker Taylor told investigators. "I was so afraid of him and I wanted the abuse to stop. Sometimes I wished I could disappear or that he would just kill me. Then he'd go to prison for the rest of his life and Mom and the other kids would be safe."
Wanda Taylor admitted to police the night of Gill Taylor's death that she shot her husband twice in the chest during a domestic altercation. She later admitted she then stabbed herself in the leg with a knife before slashing her wounded husband's neck and hands in a tussle over the weapon, and ultimately fatally shooting him in the head, Hoppe said.
"That's how we got to the murder charge," said Hoppe. "There is nothing in the murder statute that says it's about killing a good human being. It just says you've intentionally caused the death of a human being."
White had released Wanda Taylor on $100,000 bail in December 2007, ruling that although it was clear she'd caused the death of Gill Taylor, the court was not convinced she committed murder. She may have committed some other level of criminal homicide, or another defense may prevail that would have allowed for bail under Oregon law, he said. The court also found it unlikely that Wanda Taylor would commit new crimes while awaiting trial, White said.
Prosecutors negotiated a plea agreement with Wanda Taylor just days prior to a suppression hearing that might have excluded her admissions to police, Hoppe said.
"Law enforcement was in agreement with the plea bargain," he said. "We'd already had an adverse ruling from the judge regarding the murder charge. And there was obviously the possibility of an acquittal from a sympathetic jury."
Taylor agreed to waive her right to appeal as part of the agreement.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.