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Convicts testify on behalf of Taylor.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

Three murderers and a rapist who served prison time with twice-convicted killer David Ray Taylor told a Lane County jury on Wednesday that they never knew him to cause any problems while behind bars.

Taylor's attorneys called the four men - three of whom remain imprisoned - to testify in support of their position that the 58-year-old Eugene man should be sentenced to life in prison, but not death, for the August 2012 slaying of Celestino "Tino" Gutierrez Jr.

Prosecutors will ask the jury to impose the death penalty. They say that's appropriate based on the circumstances of Gutierrez's killing and their belief that Taylor poses a continued threat to society, even in a prison community.

The convicted criminals who testified Wednesday during the sentencing phase of Taylor's trial spoke highly of Taylor when recalling their interactions with him at the high-security Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.

One of the men, former Coquille resident David Peel, called Taylor an intelligent, "caring individual" who mentored younger inmates before being granted parole in 2004. Before his release, Taylor had served 27 years in prison for the murder of a young Eugene woman in 1977.

Peel, meanwhile, is serving a lifetime prison sentence for fatally shooting a Coos County woman in front of her children during a robbery in 1991.

Last week, the jury convicted Taylor of planning and helping to carry out Gutierrez's murder, to steal the 22-year-old victim's car and use it in a bank robbery. After Gutierrez was slain, his body was dismembered and buried in a forested area southwest of Eugene.

In addition to Peel, jurors on Wednesday heard testimony from Ronald Weaver, who is serving up to 70 years in prison for a series of forcible sex offenses in the Portland area in the early 1980s; and from Dwaine Little, who murdered a woman when he was a teenager, won his release and eventually went back to prison for rape and attempted murder. Little is now serving life in prison.

Also testifying was Raymond Roy, a Salem man who was paroled in 2008 after serving 24 years in prison for killing his brother and sister- in-law. Roy, who said he is married and works for a recycling firm, testified that he knew Taylor as an even-tempered inmate. "He was very approachable," Roy said. "I don't recall seeing David in trouble or in an argument."

Taylor's attorneys also called to the witness stand a former prison warden who has conducted risk assessment reviews of thousands of inmates. The expert witness, James Aiken, said he had read Taylor's prison records from his first stint in the penitentiary, and that he believes Taylor "can be safely incarcerated in a high- security environment for the rest of his life."

Other witnesses included Taylor's former parole officer, who testified that the killer "was very compliant" before being released from post-prison supervision in 2007; and forensic psychologist Tom Reidy, who said there is no scientific model that can accurately predict an inmate's future violence risk.

Both Reidy and Aiken told the jury that older inmates, including those in Taylor's age group, generally are less prone to violent behavior in prison than are younger ones.

Taylor has not testified during either phase of his trial, but he may offer the jury a statement today, prior to attorneys' closing arguments in the case. Prosecutors would not be allowed to cross- examine him.

After hearing the arguments, the jury will begin deliberations.

For the death penalty to be imposed, jurors must agree unanimously that Taylor poses a continued threat to society, that he deliberately killed Gutierrez, and that he should be sentenced to death.

While presenting their case in support of a death sentence, prosecutors on Tuesday called several police officers to testify about Taylor's criminal record and had members of Gutierrez's family tell the jury about the murder's effect on their lives.

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Title Annotation:Lane County Circuit Court; A serial rapist and three killers say they don't recall him causing trouble while in prison
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 15, 2014
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