timberland sweatshirt circumstances of 1977 murder
William Claybourne “Clay” Taylor, accused of shooting and killing Walter H. Scott of Archer and shooting then Williston Mayor Eugene T. Bailey, who survived, in 1977, is on trial on charges of first degree murder and aggravated battery.
On Jan. 27 between Ocala and Williston.
Shortly after the first few responders arrived at the scene, law enforcement officials realized it was not a crash. There were two men in the car who had been shot: one slumped over the armrest of the driver’s seat and one trying to make his way out the driver’s side back door.
The rear driver’s side window was shot out and shotgun pellets perforated the dashboard. Two .32 calliber shell casings were on the ground about six feet from the car. Tire tracks and footsteps leading away from the car were imprinted on the wet, ankle high grass. A McDonald’s cup and an address book were found nearby. One police officer said he saw one pair of women’s nylons, “stiff as a board.”
A group of 14 people 12 jury members and two alternates heard testimony from five law enforcement officials, family members of the victims and other witnesses on Wednesday in the first day of William Claybourne Taylor first degree murder trial.
The 68 year old Taylor is accused of shooting and killing Walter H. Scott, 64, of Archer, and shooting then Williston Mayor Eugene T. Bailey, who survived gunshot wounds to the face and stomach. Officials believe the attack was an assassination attempt, with Bailey as the target and Taylor as the triggerman.
Scott, Bailey and two other men were driving home from a night out in Ocala when a car pulled up alongside the 1976 Buick in which they were traveling. Scott, who was driving, was shot in the back of the head and died instantly. The car veered off the road and went into some trees. A masked man approached the Buick and shot Bailey with a pistol. The other two men ran from the scene.
Assistant State Attorney Bill Gladson told jurors that Clay Taylor was supposed to go to a Beach Boys’ concert with his girlfriend the night of the assassination attempt, but never made it. She had allegedly given him the address book so he could contact her after the concert.
In 1980, the address book would tie Taylor and his older brother Raymond Ellis “Ray” Taylor Jr., to the crime and lead to their arrests in Chattanooga,
Debra Jones, Bailey’s granddaughter, who was about 25 at the time, went to Munroe Regional Medical Center with an uncle to see Bailey after they heard about the shooting. Jones and her uncle slept on the waiting room floor that night and were only able to see Bailey the next morning.
“He was very pale,” Jones said. “He almost didn look like my grandfather. He was very, very ill. jaw had been wired shut and remained that way for a long time. He stayed in the hospital for weeks.
After visiting Bailey, Jones and her uncle headed back to Williston to shower and put on a change of clothes before coming back to the hospital. 27, past the crime scene, they saw a man standing along the road. Jones uncle recognized the man as Ray Taylor. He had parked his secretary car on the other side of the road. Clay Taylor was not with him.
hadn ever laid eyes on Clay until today, Jones said.
The guns used in the shooting which Ray Taylor had reported stolen before the shooting took place were found by a scuba diver in the Withlacoochee River in March 1977.
Ray Taylor was tried and convicted of first degree murder in 1980. His conviction was eventually overturned after misdoings by investigators and the state were uncovered. He pleaded to second degree murder for a credit time served deal.
While Ray Taylor worked his way through the judicial system, Clay Taylor was on the lam. After posting bond and disobeying orders to return to Ocala from Tennessee, he moved to Reidsville, North Carolina, married and ran a wallpaper store under the name James Manion. He was one of the FBI’s most wanted and was only arrested in 2016.
“For nearly 40 years William Clay Taylor has lived the life of a fugitive: fake name, basically fake life, fake driver’s license,” Gladson told jurors during his opening statements on Wednesday.
He told the panel to pay attention to the address book throughout the trial.
Defense Attorney Steven Laurence opted to make his opening statements after the state rests its case and before the beginning of his rest phase.
During cross examinations of the law enforcement officials, he asked them what the weather was like Jan. 8, 1977, whether it had rained that day and who else they saw at the crime scene. He also asked them how far out of Ocala the crime scene was. Most could not provide a distance and all but one said it had rained earlier that day.
Gladson and Assistant State Attorney Nick Camuccio will call their remaining eight witnesses Thursday morning. The defense will start presenting their case in the afternoon.
Laurence told 5th Circuit Judge Anthony Tatti that Clay Taylor will testify. He will take the stand last and is expected to testify for hours,