St. Louis County prosecutor will not ask verdict, sentence to be vacated in Leonard Taylor case

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell will not ask for the a motion to vacate the verdict or death sentence of inmate Leonard Taylor.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2023 at 2:59 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell will not ask for the a motion to vacate the verdict or death sentence of inmate Leonard Taylor.

In 2008 Taylor was convicted of the 2004 killing of his girlfriend and her three children in their Jennings home.

He’s always claimed his innocence. Bell’s office initially said he would support postponing Taylor’s execution so his legal team could have more time to investigate issues raised by a forensic pathologist. Monday, Bell’s office released another statement, saying:

“Leonard Taylor petitioned this office for relief under Section 547.031. After a thorough review and independent investigation, we decided that we would not be filing a motion to vacate the conviction and sentence in his case. For this office to provide details on why we came to this judgment could only further incriminate a person who sought relief from this office and currently has appeals pending. We instituted a Conviction and Incident Review Unit (CIRU) to investigate past convictions for potential constitutional violations, including cases of innocence and prosecutorial or police misconduct. The CIRU is independent - it does not credit every allegation of a defendant, nor does it presume every prior conviction is sound. Mr. Taylor has been convicted and sentenced for crimes of which a jury found him guilty and, after a thorough review of the entire case, as well as the evidence presented by Mr. Taylor’s advocates, though we would not have sought the death penalty in this case (as a matter of office policy), we believe the jury got the verdict right.”

Taylor is set to be executed on February 7. Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement Monday that the execution will be carried out according to plan.

“Leonard Taylor brutally murdered a mother and her three children. The evidence shows Taylor committed these atrocities and a jury found him guilty. Courts have consistently upheld Taylor’s convictions and sentences under the facts and the Missouri and United States Constitutions,” Parson said in the statement. “Despite his self-serving claim of innocence, the facts of his guilt in this gruesome quadruple homicide remain. The State of Missouri will carry out Taylor’s sentences according to the Court’s order and deliver justice for the four innocent lives he stole.”

Taylor is set to be the second prisoner to be executed in Missouri this year. Amber McLaughlin was executed on January 3 for a 2003 killing. Kevin Johnson was also recently executed in November for the 2005 murder of a Kirkwood police officer.