Local/State

Defense rests in Williford case

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The defense rested Tuesday in the trial of Jason Williford. He's charged with the 2010 rape and murder of N.C. State Board of Education member Kathy Taft.

The prosecution began calling rebuttal witnesses.

Defense lawyers have not tried to deny Williford killed Taft. Instead, they're trying to keep him off death row by trying to prove the crime was not premeditated - a requirement required for the death penalty under North Carolina law.

Williford's defense team called a series of psychiatrists and a social worker to testify about his extensive history of mental problems that range from sex addiction to drug and alcohol problems.

Police have said Williford attacked Taft inside a home on Raleigh's Cartier Lane in the late night hours of March 5 or the early morning hours of March 6, 2010. She died at WakeMed a few days later. The home is in the same neighborhood where Williford and his ex-wife Jessica Foote lived.

On the night she was attacked, Taft and her sister were house-sitting while Taft recovered from a surgery. Her sister found her bloodied body. According to testimony from the medical examiner, the state school board member had been sexually assaulted and was killed by a blow to the head.

Taft served on the State School Board for 15 years. She also ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat in 2008. Prior to that, she served on the Pitt County Board of Education.

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Tags:
wake county, homicide, kathy taft, local/state
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