Originally created 02/17/99

Inmate requests new trial



AIKEN -- An inmate who pleaded guilty nine years ago to beating a neighbor to death with a rock wants a new trial, claiming his attorney knew the victim and her parents.

Michael Ray Taylor, 24, requested the new trial in a postconviction relief request filed this week with the Aiken County Court of Common Pleas.

Mr. Taylor, serving a 40-year sentence at Allendale Correctional Institute for manslaughter and grand larceny auto, pleaded guilty in 1990 to killing Barbara E. Ledford in an effort to get her car. The woman's body was found near Cold Creek on May 14, 1990, two days after she was killed.

Court transcripts show his attorney "sort of knew the deceased and casually knew her parents," Mr. Taylor wrote.

The attorney, Lavaun Fox, "could not fairly represent me without preconceived ideas and judgmental thinking as to the amount of time and the type of sentence imposed," the inmate wrote. "The entire transcript shows a lacklustrious approach by Mr. Fox toward the case in general."

Asked in a court questionnaire why he was filing the appeal so late, Mr. Taylor said his IQ was only 72, making reading and understanding his rights and the law difficult and time-consuming. He said he only recently found out he had a right to the court transcript.

Second Circuit Solicitor Barbara Morgan said she expects a judge to deny the appeal.

Postconviction relief hearings are heard twice a year, and Mr. Taylor will likely have to wait until the end of the year or next year to have his appeal heard, a county clerk said.

Greg Rickabaugh can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.