Michael Taylor, 47, an inmate at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Mo. who had been convicted of the 1989 kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 15-year-old Raytown, Mo. school girl, was executed by lethal injection and pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. on Feb. 26.
Taylor offered no final statement. He mouthed silent words to his parents, two clergymen and two other relatives who witnessed his death. As the process began, he took two deep breaths before closing his eyes for the last time. There were no obvious signs of distress. ~ USA Today
On the morning of March 22, 1989, 15-year-old Ann Harrison walked out of her house and into her driveway to wait for her school bus. That’s when Taylor and another man, Roderick Nunley, forced the child into their stolen vehicle and took her to a house where they “raped and fatally stabbed the girl as she pleaded for her life.”
Nunley also was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.
Taylor’s lawyers exhausted several appeals and arguments in an effort to get a stay of execution for their client, but to no avail. Taylor’s lethal injection went forward last night as scheduled.
Taylor was originally scheduled to be executed Feb. 1, 2006, but was granted a stay of execution on the grounds of cruel and unusual punishment. The state eventually came back to give the green light to proceed with Taylor’s execution.
Pete Edlund, the now retired police detective that led the investigation into the teen’s tragic murder said:
"Cruel and unusual punishment would be if we killed them the same way they killed Annie Harrison."
"Get a damn rope, string them up, put them in the gas chamber. Whatever it takes."
The circumstances surrounding Harrison’s abduction and murder are still heartbreaking to hear, and sound as if they came from a dark crime drama movie script.
Reportedly, Taylor and Nunley, both in their early 20s, had just finished up an evening of “binging on crack cocaine,” when they stole a car, saw Harrison standing in her driveway - and kidnapped her.
With the 15-year-old as their captive, the two men drove to Nunley's mother’s house, where they forced the child into the cellar and raped her.
Both men tried to pin the crimes on the other.
DNA testing linked Taylor to the crime. Afraid she would be able to identify them, the men used kitchen knives to stab the girl 10 times, including in her throat and torso, as she begged for her life.
She offered money if they would let her live. She died about 30 minutes later, according to the medical examiner.
The car they stole was found abandoned the day after Harrison disappeared. Police made the gruesome discovery of finding Ann’s body in the trunk of that abandoned vehicle.
Ann’s murder went unsolved for six months. But after a $10,000 reward was offered for information, a tip came in that led police to Taylor and Nunley, and their arrests. Both men pleaded guilty to their participation in the child’s murder. Both men received death sentences.
Retired Kansas City Police detective Edlund said that Harrison’s case left “even veteran officers traumatized.”
"She just turned 15," he said. "It was a tragedy all the way around. This was an innocent child."
As much as for the gruesomeness of Taylor’s crimes against Ann Harrison, his execution has been making the headlines because he’s now become the fourth person to receive the death penalty in Mo. in the last four months.
For more on Michael Taylor's execution, see the video accompanying this article.
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