WHITLEY COUNTY — A Williamsburg woman charged with killing her husband and two children in January 2017 entered an Alford plea on three counts of murder Wednesday morning.
Courtney Taylor, 44, appeared in Whitley Circuit Court for a pretrial conference Wednesday prior to a March jury trial. The Alford plea means Taylor does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the prosecution has enough evidence for conviction.
The Commonwealth's recommendation for Taylor is life without parole.
Commonwealth's Attorney Jackie Steele has been working for approximately three weeks with Taylor’s defense counsel on the plea. Wednesday during court, Steele noted of the concerns for the defense was that Taylor simply could not recall the events.
Steele looked at three facts that gave credibility to her not being able to remember.
“Whether she can or not, I cannot speak to,” Steele said.
Steele went on to note drug use around the time of the murders, post traumatic trauma and multiple surgeries with anesthesia post the murders as the three factors he considered regarding the Alford plea.
“This plea, whether Alford or otherwise, satisfies the requirements of the Commonwealth that she will never walk out of prison again,” said Steele.
Taylor stood in court along with her attorneys and told Judge Jeff Burdette she was “guilty under Alford.”
Steele said he’s been in contact with the victims' family and they understood that a death penalty by jury trial is not anything that’s probably going to proceed during her expected natural life and that she’d probably die of natural causes in the penal system anyway.
“The main thing that they wanted... was that she could never walk out of prison again,” said Steele.
Taylor faced three counts of murder for the shooting of her husband and two children in their beds. The bodies were discovered after deputies with the Whitley County Sheriff's Department responded to the home near the Emlyn community to investigate a 911 call made by a concerned family member.
When deputies arrived at the scene, there was no response from inside the home, which led to them forcing their way through a back door of the house. Upon entry, according to deputies, Taylor aimed a firearm in the direction of the deputies before being shot twice. For that, Taylor was also facing two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Those charges were dropped in exchange for the plea.
She was taken from the scene to Baptist Health Corbin and then later transported to the UK Medical Center for further treatment. After being released, she was jailed in the Whitley County Detention Center.
A jury trial was set to begin March 9, with the jury selection process beginning on March 2, which Judge Burdette, who was presiding over the case, expected to last all week.
Sentencing for Taylor will be 10:30 a.m. April 8.