Mark Taylor avoids death penalty

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Chad Darnall

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY- A man convicted of murder, and facing the death penalty, has been spared. Early Friday evening, a McCracken County jury sentenced Mark Taylor, 48, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That same jury convicted Taylor of murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence late Thursday night for his role in the 2010 death of 21-year-old CaSondra Evrard.

On Friday on the capitol offense of kidnapping, which could have meant the death penalty for Taylor, the jury sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The 10 women and 2 men did the same on the murder charge. On a tampering charge they sentenced Taylor to the maximum of 5 years.

As Mark Taylor learned his fate, he showed absolutely no reaction. He was stone-faced, as he has been for most of the trial. But his lawyer, Craig Newbern, said shortly after the verdict his client was "relieved" although he admitted Taylor still needed time to process his sentencing.

Carla Cruse, the victim's mother said she was "pleased" with the outcome.

Cruse said later, "I'd like to thank the state for their dedication to CaSondra's case. Tim Reed (the lead investigator) was my rock. All those involved did an awesome job."

For their part, lawyers on both sides said they were satisfied with the jury's decision.

Newbern said, "That was our primary objective to save Mark's life. So we did succeed in that, so we're satisfied."

"I was going to be happy with either verdict. I just wanted to make sure he never gets out, is never part of the public again. He'll die in prison and we're glad he will," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond McGee said.

Jury deliberations on the sentencing took just under two hours. Jurors spent much of the day listening to testimony from family members on both sides.

Dorothy Taylor spent her 75th birthday testifying to that jury, pleading with them to save her son's life.

"Mark told me he didn't touch her, Jamie said she did," she said of the December 10, 2010 crime.

Taylor recalled raising her son in the church, telling the jury he was a good father and good son.

Mark Taylor smiled briefly during his mother's testimony. Later she said, "That's my child, I love him."

Taylor's own children also testified. Tiffany Taylor, 21, described her father by saying, "He's goofy, very goofy. He likes to cut up."

Jurors were seen tearing up when Taylor's two youngest children, 11 and 16, testified on the stand saying they loved their father.

Some also choked up listening to testimony from Carla Cruse who said of daughter CaSondra, "She was my princess."

Cruse remembered her daughter as an ordinary girl who loved horses and scrapbooking. She said the pair were inseparable and texted as much as 50 to 60 times a day.

Mark Taylor will remain at the McCracken County Jail for the next several months. He will be formally sentenced April 3rd, along with 5 co-defendants, including his wife and sister. His daughter, Jasmine, also charged with murder, goes to trial in March.

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