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Man charged with murder and corpse abuse not smart enough for trial, mental health experts say

Man charged with murder and corpse abuse not smart enough for trial, mental health experts say

May 16th, 2019 by Lynn LaRowe in Texarkana News

Tony Earl Taylor

A man accused of killing his girlfriend and burying her body has been found unfit to proceed to trial by Arkansas state mental health experts for a third time.

Tony Earl Taylor, 59, is accused in the March 2017 slaying of 35-year-old Crystal Reed. Reed's body was unearthed from a makeshift grave on a hunting lease in Ogden, Ark., by investigators after Taylor allegedly told them where to find her.

Taylor is charged with murder, abuse of a corpse and evidence tampering.

In reports dated Oct. 25, 2017, and Aug. 17, 2018, forensic psychologist Lacey Willett Matthews concludes that Taylor's level of intellectual functioning prevents him from understanding what is happening in the court process or assisting his lawyer in preparing a defense, both of which are required for a finding of competency under legal standards.

A third report recently filed in the case by Benjamin Silber, Ph.D., of Arkansas State Hospital Forensic Services, agrees with the earlier findings that Taylor simply lacks the intellect to understand what is happening in a courtroom and may not be able to assist his lawyer in mounting a defense to the serious criminal charges facing him.

"It is unlikely Mr. Taylor will be restored to a state of fitness to proceed in the foreseeable future," the report states. "Given the available information, Mr. Tayor poses a low risk of dangerousness to self, others, or the property of others."

The report notes that Taylor's lack of convictions for violent crimes is a factor in the low-risk finding.

The report does state that it is possible Taylor is malingering, or faking, an intellectual deficiency.

"Furthermore, Mr. Taylor's A.S.H. psychiatrist informed me that after his 2018 evaluation with Dr. Matthews, he 'admitted to the social worker the next day that he didn't answer the questions right on purpose and pretended that he didn't understand.' This suggests he may have feigned impairment in the past," the report states. "This information was insufficient to dissuade me from my opinion."

The report details Taylor's performance on tests designed to detect malingering and to evaluate memory as indicative of someone with an intellectual impairment.

The case is scheduled for a status hearing before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones in August.

Taylor allegedly led Texarkana, Ark., detectives to Reed's makeshift grave on a hunting lease in Ogden, Ark., in Little River County after confessing to stabbing her to death in the unit she and Taylor shared in the Smith Keys Apartments, according to a probable cause affidavit used to create the following account. Since Reed's disappearance, crime scene investigators collected a number of pieces of evidence from unit 127 of Smith Keys, including flooring, furniture, door knobs and knives.

Court documents charging Taylor allege Reed was murdered March 6, 2017, the day before her mother reported her missing. The mother told police her daughter had uncharacteristically missed work and wasn't answering her phone. Texarkana, Texas, police officers assisted in the investigation March 8, 2017, when they collected moving blankets, a shovel, rubber boots and dirty gloves from a backyard on Pine Street after receiving a report that Taylor had recently left the items there.

The blankets appeared to be stained with blood.

Taylor faces 10 to 40 years or life in prison if convicted of murder. If found guilty of abuse of a corpse, he faces three to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. If convicted of tampering with physical evidence, Taylor faces up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Bail is set at
$750,000.

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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