By Fred Petke / Staff Writer
Convicted killer Clifford Johnny Taylor defiantly took sole responsibility Thursday for killing an elderly Whitley County woman in 1998.
What that means to his co-defendant J.T. Glover, 23, won’t be known for two and a half months.
Thursday’s hearing in Williamsburg was to determine whether Taylor testified truthfully during Glover’s trial, as required in his plea agreement, or not.
In 2003, Taylor wrote and signed an affidavit in which he took full responsibility for the murder, arson and robbery. Whitley Circuit Judge Paul Braden denied Glover’s motion for a new trial in 2004. An appeal of that ruling led to Thursday’s hearing.
During Glover’s trial, Taylor testified that Glover, who lived behind Sumner’s home, was the mastermind behind the entire incident, which started as a robbery. When they entered the house, Sumner awoke. At trial, Taylor said Glover was the one who stabbed her 34 times with a screwdriver, tied her to the bed and set her house on fire.
Taylor, now 26, testified Thursday that his conscience got the better of him once Glover was incarcerated with Taylor at the same prison.
“The only thing J.T. Glover did was help me hide the stolen merchandise,” Taylor said. “I lied at trial. John Glover didn’t kill Ms. Sumner. I did.”
The two are both serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years for the May 27, 1998 killing of 75-year-old Alice Sumner and the robbery and arson of her home in Savoy. The question remains as to whether the judge believes Taylor testified truthfully during Glover’s trial in 2000 or not.
Whitley Circuit Judge Paul Braden did not rule on the motion Thursday afternoon. Instead, he gave Glover’s attorneys Amy Robinson Staples and Melanie Lowe 45 days to prepare written arguments and prosecutors another 30 days to respond.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble testified Thursday that Taylor gave three different statements to police, including the one when he pleaded guilty. The 2003 affidavit was the fourth.
Taylor also claimed his trial testimony was the result of being threatened and intimidated by Trimble and Kentucky State Police Detective Colan Harrell. Taylor said the two met with him in the Whitley County Jail without Taylor’s attorney and said he would get the death penalty unless Taylor “gave somebody up.”
Trimble vehemently denied the allegations, testifying he only met with Taylor once and his attorney was in the room.
“I never met him at the Whitley County Jail,” Trimble said. “I never remember meeting any prisoner at the Whitley County Jail. Absolutely not.”
Taylor nearly wasn’t allowed to testify at all Thursday. As Taylor’s attorney Vanessa Sears told the court that he was going to testify against advice and waive his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, Taylor said, “I’m going to testify. Y’all going to kill me? You can’t do nothing to me.”
Braden ordered Taylor removed from the courtroom and delayed his testimony. Taylor was later recalled, apologized to Braden and was allowed to testify.
Trimble said perjury charges were a possibility against Taylor, but would need to be discussed.
“We’d have to determine what we’d do,” he said. “As a practical matter, there’s not much we can do” since Taylor is already serving a life sentence. If the judge rules that Taylor did not tell the truth at trial, his plea agreement could be revoked.
Fred Petke can be reached at fpetke@thetimes tribune.com.