Greg Taylor, who was convicted of the murder of a prostitute sixteen years ago, was released from his life sentence a month ago when the North Carolina Innocence Commission unanimously cleared him of all charges.
He and his family had been protesting the conviction since 1993, when Taylor was first sent to prison, but every appeal failed. Taylor was the first person to be exonerated by the NC Innocence Commission, which was set up to make decisions about convicted people’s claims of innocence.
Taylor was ultimately cleared of all charges when the court decided that the evidence used to convict him in 1993 was faulty. A stain found in Taylor’s truck was discovered not to be blood, as prosecutors had claimed. Also, testimonies by other prostitutes who claimed to witness the murder were discredited when situations they described were found to be physically impossible.
After Taylor was cleared, his leg shackles were removed, and he was reunited with his family. He hugged the mother of the murder victim and shook District Attorney Colon Willoughby’s hand. He could not stop expressing his gratitude to the court for clearing his name and setting him free.
On his first day out of prison, Taylor bought new glasses to replace his Johnson Correctional Institute frames, tried a peach protein shake he had wanted to taste since reading about it in an exercise magazine, and met the boy who now calls him “G-Daddy.”
However, despite Taylor’s joy at being exonerated after a long struggle for freedom, his trials are not over. Taylor is entering a society he has not been a part of for over sixteen years.
His daughter, who was nine years old when he was locked up, is now twenty-six and has a son of her own. Taylor has no job, no house of his own, and is facing a world that is exceedingly different than it was in 1993.
DVDs amaze him. He declares Facebook a waste of time, is intoxicated by mall food, and is thoroughly impressed with automatic soap dispensers in public restrooms. iPods, super-slim laptops, DVR – it is all new to him. The world as it was in 1993 has changed without him, and Taylor is struggling to catch up.
As if adjusting to new technology and trends is not enough, Taylor is also having difficulty putting his life back together.He returned to society with nothing but a list of community college courses he took while in prison, a new Social Security card, and a forty-five dollar check issued by the state “to help him get back on his feet.”
As of now, Taylor is living in his grandson’s room at his daughter’s house. He is looking to find a job and a car in order to become self-sufficient. However, Taylor knows that he may always rely on others for his well-being; many former prisoners are never able to become financially independent. Many also find that relationships they had with others before their sentence are strained after the long separation.
Despite all of this, Taylor remains optimistic and is looking toward the future. He says he is taking life month-by-month.