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Police charge victim's nephews with theft

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

A Jonesboro man has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly aunt who took him in after he was released from prison for armed robbery.

Jonathan Jemain Kirkland, 32, spent nearly one-third of his life in prison for the Clayton County armed robbery crime and was released in December 2007. His great-aunt, Eskate Taylor, 95, let him and his mother move in with her in the small, white-siding house she bought in 1958.

"He stayed here with his mother because they didn't have a place to live," said Taylor. "I felt sorry for him."

Jonesboro police say Taylor's kindness was repaid with the theft of her savings and inheritance. Kirkland was in the Clayton County Jail Monday on $50,000 bond, charged with 10 counts of first degree forgery. A second nephew, Darrell Gardner, faces similar charges but had not been arrested as of Monday.

Taylor worked as a housekeeper in Clayton County until retiring at 87. She never married or had children and set aside part of her salary into savings. When her brother died a few years ago, a small inheritance also went into the bank. She thought her money was secure until she got a letter from the bank and a visit from the police.

"I never would have thought anyone would've done such a thing," said Taylor. "I didn't know what was going on until the police came to see me."

Police say the thefts started in January 2010 and were discovered in February 2011 a bank employee. Marie Martin of SunTrust Bank said she was concerned Taylor was a victim of fraud or theft when Martin noticed handwriting on checks made out to Gardner did not match Taylor's. Martin said that in July alone, more than $14,000 in checks had been written for siding and windows.

Taylor said nephew Jonathan Kirkland had been involved in a car accident and expected an insurance check.

"That's where I thought he was getting his money from," she said.