Monday, January 9, 2012

Ann Harrison

Article From April 28, 2003

Missouri has almost 30,000 inmates in its prison system.

Of those, 64 are sentenced to die. All of those death-row inmates are locked up in Potosi, Mo., south of St Louis.

Two Kansas City men are among those on death row, charged with the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, KMBC's Peggy Breit reported.Ann Harrison was killed 14 years ago.

Her killers, Michael Taylor and Roderick Nunley, gave videotaped confessions, in 1989, shortly after Harrison died.

Harrison was waiting for her school bus in front of her home, when suddenly she was gone, her book bags left where she'd been standing.

Michael Taylor said his recollection of Ann's face at the moment he and Nunley pulled up beside her in a stolen car was fuzzy until he saw the girl's picture again."To put myself back in that moment and in those shoes, I can't remember that," Taylor said.

Ann's body was found several days later in the trunk of a stolen car, where Nunley and Taylor had left her after stabbing the girl to death.Taylor confessed to the crime in June of that year.

Nunley confessed a month later, after watching Taylor's tape.The two told very different stories, but each pleaded guilty.

A judge sentenced them to death.

Today, their stories are virtually unchanged. Both remember the events with the other man committing the rape and fatally stabbing the girl.

Forensic evidence points to Taylor doing both, Breit reported."I know God knows and Mike Taylor knows what happened that day. That's something we're both going to be judged on when judgment day comes," Nunley said.

Taylor and Nunley are still friendly with each other, Breit reported.

The two men only discuss their legal cases, not Ann's murder.

Nunley, now 38, is protective of his thoughts and feelings, Breit said.

KMBC's crew spent more than an hour with him, but at Nunley's request, only videotaped for a few minutes.

The day of the murder, both Nunley and Taylor were binging on crack cocaine."Everything was more or less haywire," Taylor said. Taylor, 36, is more open than Nunley.

But Taylor said he remembers only bits and pieces of that hour of his life.

But he is sure of one thing: "It was a hideous crime. It was a bad crime." And yet both men believe they should be allowed to live.

They point to cases of serial killers like Bob Berdella, who got life in prison rather than death.

The statistics show that black-on-white murders more often result in capital punishment, Breit reported. Both Taylor and Nunley are black. Ann was white.

Nunley and Taylor's former Potosi inmate, Darrel Mease, who killed three people, was granted clemency four years ago when Pope John Paul II visited Missouri and asked then-Gov. Mel Carnahan to show mercy.

Mease's death sentence was commuted to life.

"We can't hold that against him (Mease). He didn't do that, you know? The governor did. Was that right? That was a smack in the face to the rest of the inmates, as far as us on death row. What about us?"

Taylor and Nunley's futures are still in the appeals process. Taylor is further along and would get an execution date first if his latest appeal fails, as the others have.

It's something expected at Potosi, Breit said. Life and death commingle."This is factual, this most definitely is factual. This is not an hallucination. This isn't a bad dream -- although I wish it was -- this is factual. People are executed here, and they're gone," Taylor said.

The two men have spent 12 years on death row, racked with guilt because they say each could have prevented Ann's murder.

Both say they've asked God to forgive them, yet they understand that Ann's family and some in their own families may not.

"I know that my maker knows that I am truly sorry about what happened, and if there was any way in the world I could take this back, I would take it back," Nunley said.

"She probably would have been a beautiful person. And this case ended that, and I am ashamed," Taylor said.

Both inmates said they know their words of apology cannot make up for the damage they've caused. But they hope someone can learn something from them and stop before a situation like theirs repeats itself.

KMBC spoke with Ann's family both before and after the interviews with Nunley and Taylor. Ann's parents said they had nothing to add; they're just watching the cases as they move through the appeals process.


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