Leonard "Raheem" Taylor was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. Tuesday. He was sentenced to death for the 2004 quadruple murder of his girlfriend and her three children. Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Corrections/Website
Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The State of Missouri has executed Leonard "Raheem" Taylor for the 2004 murder of his girlfriend and her three children.
The Missouri Department of Corrections confirmed to UPI in a statement that Taylor was executed by lethal injection Tuesday evening at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo.
He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m.
"Muslims don't die. We live eternally in the hearts of our family & friends," Taylor said as his last statement, which was provided to UP by the Missouri Department of Corrections. "From Allah we come & to Allah we all shall return.
"Everybody will get their turn to die. Death is not your enemy, it is your destiny. Look forward to meeting it," he said. "Peace!"
Taylor, 58, was convicted by a Illinois jury on four counts of first-degree murder for the death of Angela Rowe and her three children, 10-year-old Alexus Conley, 6-year-old Acqreya Conley and 5-year-old Tyrese Conley.
The four victims were found by police the evening of Dec. 3, 2004, at the St. Louis County home they shared with Taylor.
Police said they were called to the residence by family who had not heard from Rowe and her children in days. Court records state officers gained entry to the locked house through a bedroom window to find the air conditioner was set to 50 degrees and the television was on. In the front yard, newspapers were strewn about and the mail box was full.
Each of the victims had been shot to death and were in early stages of decomposition.
Taylor maintained his innocence until his execution, claiming he was in California with his wife when Rowe and her children were killed.
According to court documents, Taylor boarded a flight from Missouri to Ontario, Calif., on Nov. 26,
The medical examiner, Dr. Phillip Burch, had originally stated that Rowe and her children had been dead two or three days prior to their discovery, putting their time of death after Taylor had left the state.
During the trial, however, Burch said the victims had been dead for up three weeks while Taylor was still in Missouri. Burch claimed that his first account did not consider the effect the air conditioner would have had on the time of death.
Taylor's attorneys had appealed the decision and requested a review of the case involving new and old evidence. According to the Innocence Project, Taylor's daughter, who is now an adult, had issued a sworn statement that she remembers her father calling Rowe during his visit to California and that she had spoken to Rowe and one over her daughters over the phone.
The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell on Tuesday issued a statement, saying he has decided not to file a motion to vacate the conviction and sentence in Taylor's case.
"Mr. Taylor has been convicted and sentenced for crimes of which a jury found him guilty and, after a thorough review of the entire case, as well as the evidence presented by Mr. Taylor's advocates, though we would not have sought the death penalty in this case (as a matter of office policy), we believe the jury got the verdict right," he said.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday also rejected Taylor's request for a stay of execution, after his legal council petitioned for a master's hearing with intent to call forensic pathologist Dr. Jane Turner.
Turner, Taylor's counsel said, found Burch's opinion that the victims had been killed between one and three weeks before the bodies were discovered "was in all probability wrong."
Taylor was also executed a day after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declined to issue the death row inmate clemency.
"Despite his self-serving claim of innocence, the facts of his guilt in this gruesome quadruple homicide remain," the Republican governor said in a statement. "The State of Missouri will carry out Taylor's sentences according to the court's order and deliver justice for the four innocent lives he stole."
In a statement Tuesday night, The MidWest Innocence Project, which is committed to exoneration the wrongly convicted, accused the state of having unjustly killed Taylor after neither the police, the prosecutor nor his attorneys seriously investigated his claims of innocence.
"Mr. Taylor's life was stolen by unreliable testimony and unscientific conclusions and a system that refused to correct its mistakes," it said.
"Our hearts are with Mr. Taylor's family, who will continue to share the love that he gave them, as well as the Rowe family, who should not be required to revisit their pain."
Taylor was the second person to be executed in Missouri this year after Amber McLaughlin was put to death in early January, making her the first openly transgender person to be executed in U.S. history.