WARNING: The following story contains graphic details.
Kevin Patrick Taylor, a 56-year-old San Juan Island man, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on July 22 for the murder of his wife, Julie Taylor in September 2016. She was 56 when she died.
A notice of appeal has been filed by Kevin Taylor’s attorneys shortly after sentencing was complete. According to Barnett, appeals are heard in the Court of Appeals-Division 1. The notice is just the first step, she added. “Briefing won’t be due for some time.”
“This has been a gut-wrenching case,” Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock, who also presided over the trial, told the courtroom.
The trial took place from May 6-31. The jury was comprised of 12 men and women from Lopez, Orcas and San Juan islands. Taylor was found guilty of felony murder (a death that resulted from felony assault) for the bludgeoning death of his wife as well as arson for starting a fire in her car the same night as her murder. The jury also returned special determinations that it was a crime of domestic violence and that the death occurred with a firearm.
Sentencing was originally set for July 8, but defense attorney Jason Schwarz filed a motion for a continuance claiming that the state had added new information while calculating restitution. San Juan County Deputy Prosecutor Teresa Barnett argued against the continuance, noting that the information was factual.
Acknowledging that it was a burden for people to come into court again, Hancock allowed statements regarding sentencing at the scheduled July 8 hearing. Several people wrote to the court, but only one person, Nancy Vevoda on behalf of Beverly Bridges, provided oral testimony on July 8. Her statement, which at one point included how much she missed Julie, moved many in the courtroom to tears.
According to San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randall Gaylord, this was the first San Juan County jury trial in a murder case since the 1985 trial for the murder of Lopez resident Rolf Neslund by his wife Ruth.
According to court documents, San Juan County dispatch received a call from someone in the Taylors’ Friday Harbor residence at 1 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2016. A deputy arrived on scene 20 minutes later and found Julie Taylor lying near an open doorway, lifelessly and with a large pool of blood around her head.
A motorcycle helmet and cat food cans partially covered her face. A .22 rifle broken into pieces lay scattered around her head along with a broken potted plant. Blood spatter covered the adjoining cabinet, walls and ceiling.
Kevin Taylor was sitting nearby on a couch, and stated to the deputy, “I got her.” He was placed under arrest.
After claiming that his wife had poisoned him, Kevin Taylor was transported to Peace Island Medical Center to be evaluated by emergency room staff. He was medically cleared and booked into San Juan County Jail.
The victim was taken to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s office where an autopsy was conducted.
The Washington State Patrol Crime Scene Response Team responded a few hours later to assist San Juan County in its investigation. The team collected blood samples and used a 3D imaging camera to photograph the scene.
Officers discovered notes on the kitchen counter that said: “I don’t feel a heartbeat, I win!! Bitch,” “I hope she died,” “She forgot to kiss me goodbye,” “She told me too soon” and “I win.”
The Taylors had been married for 25 years.
Sentencing centered around two key elements: Taylor’s finances in regards to compensation for the legal costs of the case and his mental state.
The defense argued that Taylor was indigent and should therefore only be compelled to pay mandatory fees, including $500 for victim penalty assessment; $5,750 restitution, payable to the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund for Julie’s burial; and a DNA testing fee of $100, for a total of $6,350. They added that Taylor should be given a lesser sentence due to mental illness, andrequested a maximum of three years, waving the five-year firearm requirement.
The prosecution opted not to request above the standard sentencing range but instead asked for the maximum sentence of 25 years. Barnett also argued that Taylor should not only pay the mandatory fees but, because he had assets, should pay approximately $53,321.89 for court and sheriff fees, domestic violence assessment, crime lab fees and a court-appointed defense expert and investigator.
The defense argued that Kevin Taylor did not have any assets as he has been incarcerated and his property had been transferred over to his son after the July 8 sentencing continuance.
According to court documents, the prosecution argued that the transfer, given the timeline, was fraudulent and should not be taken into account.
While Hancock noted the State’s argument, he did not answer it. Instead, Hancock said, he was required by law to find Taylor indigent, citing the RCW definition of indigent which states if the person has no income or assets at the time of sentencing, the defendant must be found indigent. Taylor was ordered to pay the mandatory fees at a rate of $25 a month beginning 60 days after his release. Hancock also noted he did not have the authority to wave the firearms requirement, and while he believed Kevin Taylor to be remorseful, ordered a 20-year prison sentence.
“All inmates are given credit for time served prior to sentencing,” Barnett told the Journal after the hearing. Kevin Taylor has been in custody since the murder on Sept. 3, 2016.