By Ed Brock
Taking the stand at his murder trial Adrian Mitchell Taylor tearfully proclaimed that he didn't remember killing his friend by beating him with a car jack and strangling him with a video game controller.
“I just remember waking up in jail,” 18-year-old Taylor said.
But Taylor changed details of his story at least twice under cross examination by Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Richard Brown.
Taylor doesn't deny the fact that he killed 23-year-old Joshua Cook in Cook's home on Oct. 14, 2004. But in his testimony on Wednesday Taylor said Cook made a homosexual advance toward him that triggered memories of a previous sexual assault he suffered as a child.
Taylor's defense is based on the argument that he was mentally unable to tell right from wrong when he committed the crime.
In his testimony Taylor said that he was playing video games and smoking marijuana with Cook in Cook's room around 3 or 3:30 a.m. when Cook stood up, opened his robe and dropped his shorts. Cook then supposedly stood in front of Taylor, put his arm on Taylor's shoulder and told him to perform a sexual act on him.
“That's when I flipped out. I lost it,” Taylor said.
He said he left the house and sat down near a cemetery where he began thinking about the incident with Cook and the time when a man nicknamed “Tiny,” a friend of his aunt, molested him nearly 10 years ago.
“I started thinking about ‘Tiny' and what happened and the more I thought about it I got angry,” Taylor said.
So Taylor retrieved a “bumper jack” from his house and returned to Cook's house. He entered the house, beat Cook on the head several times with the jack and then strangled him with the cord.
Taylor said he remembers dragging Cook through the house by the cord and then came back to his senses out in the yard where he bent down and noticed that Cook was still breathing.
“It occurred to me that I could change something that happened,” Taylor said.
So he went home and told his brother Chris Taylor what happened and they called 911.
In his cross examination Brown pounded Taylor, pointing out that he had told people six different times what had happened.
“But just now you said you don't remember it,” Brown said. “And you know that during those six times your statement changed.”
At one point Taylor said he didn't remember getting the bumper jack, then said he didn't know why he got the jack. When Brown asked him which was true, that he didn't remember getting the jack or he didn't know why he got it, Taylor said he did remember getting the jack.
When Brown asked him where he got the jack Taylor at first said “I guess my back shed.”
“You don't know,” Brown retorted.
“My back shed,” Taylor replied.
And at one point Taylor got angry at Brown who seemed to doubt his story about the original molestation by “Tiny.” The outburst came as Brown asked Taylor why he didn't have a police report about the incident nor went to court though he claimed Tiny had been prosecuted and why Taylor never received counseling after the molestation.
“Sir, I can't even (urinate) in a toilet with these images in my head,” Taylor nearly shouted.
Psychologist James Powell testified that Taylor suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and a delusional disorder. Brown questioned the results of Powell's diagnosis because it was based only on information from Taylor and several psychological tests that Taylor could have “beat” to show that he had a mental problem.
“Garbage in, garbage out,” Brown called it.
Powell said he found it extremely unlikely that Taylor could have “beaten” the tests.
Chris Taylor, who was called to the stand to testify about how his brother changed after the initial assault, also said that he was worried about Adrian Taylor's health in the day's before the killing.
“I just hadn't seen him for a while and I wasn't real sure how things were going in his life,” Chris Taylor said.
Cook's mother Mary Esposito was called as a rebuttal witness and said she saw Taylor leaving her house the day before the murders.
“He just looked really bad, he was sick,” Esposito said.
She went to her son's room where Chris Taylor was visiting with Cook.
“I told both of them that we need to get (Adrian Taylor) off of whatever drugs he was on ... he's killing himself,” Esposito said.
Out of court Esposito said that she believes there was a lot of drug use in the Taylor home. Taylor's mother Vickey Taylor said there was drug use in both houses.
“I have regrets, I'm sure she does, too,” Taylor said. “In my own opinion we both could have been better parents.”