Flew into a rage over a broken door went on a rampage, shooting a maintenance worker at his apartment and customers
at two fast-food restaurants.
Surrendered to police after a hostage standoff.
Gunman in rage kills 2, take
Broken door sets off shootings,
Detroit Free Press
2 March 2000
A gunman who
reportedly flew into a rage over a broken door went on a rampage
Wednesday, shooting a maintenance worker at his apartment and customers
at two fast-food restaurants before surrendering to police during a
hostage standoff. Two people were killed and three critically wounded.
Ronald Taylor, 39, was arrested in
an office building after he kept police at bay for two hours, holding
four or five people in wheelchairs hostage at a senior hospice center.
Gunman said angered by broken door
Watertown Daily Times
2 March 2000
John DeWitt was so worried about the verbal abuse coming from Ronald
Taylor that he picked up a hammer for self-defense. He was at Taylor's
apartment to fix a door.
When DeWitt left, called away to
another job, Taylor was still angry.
Moments later, Taylor shot one of
DeWitt's co-workers, set his apartment on fire and went on a shooting
spree at two fast-food restaurants in suburban Pittsburgh, police said.
Two men died in Wednesday's rampage
and three others were wounded.
Pennsylvania attack leaves 2 dead, 3
San Jose Mercury News
2 March 2000
by repair problems in his home, a gunman Wednesday torched his apartment
and went on a shooting rampage, killing two men and critically wounding
three others at his building and at two fast-food restaurants before
giving up to police.
Police refused to speculate on the
motives that propelled the alleged gunman, identified as 39-year-old
Ronald Taylor, to unleash his .22-caliber revolver.
Gunman's rampage leaves two dead,
The Wichita Eagle
2 March 2000
WILKINSBURG, Pa. -A
gunman who reportedly flew into a rage over a broken door went on a
rampage Wednesday, shooting a maintenance worker at his apartment and
customers at two fast-food restaurants before surrendering to police
during a hostage standoff. Two people were killed and three critically
Ronald Taylor, 39, of Wilkinsburg,
was arrested in an office building after he kept police at bay for two
hours, holding four or five people in wheelcha irs hostage at a senior
2 dead, 3 wounded in rampage
Police say anti-white writings found
The Cincinnati Post
2 March 2000
Police said today
that the black man charged with shooting five white men in a Pittsburgh
suburb had ''anti-white'' writings in his apartment.
Ronald Taylor, accused of killing
two and critically wounding three others, singled out whites, according
to witnesses. One former hostage said today the gunman told a fellow
black, ''Not you, sister,'' as he threatened to shoot other hostages.
Accused gunman described as angry
3 March 2000
PITTSBURGH, Pa. ---
Strange but harmless. Until this week, that's how property managers at a
Wilkinsburg, Pa., apartment complex regarded tenant Ronald Taylor, who
paid his rent on time, complained about apartment maintenance and
frequently made racist comments against whites. Taylor, 39, who lived on
Social Security Disability in a fifth-floor apartment, was treated for
mental illness in the past.
To his neighbors, he was a low-key
man who would say hello, but never had an extended conversation.
Gunman believed racially motivated
Hate crime charged; 3rd spree victim
Detroit Free Press
3 March 2000
A black man accused
of killing three white men and critically wounding two others during a
shooting rampage was charged Thursday with committing a racially
inspired hate crime.
Authorities charged that Ronald
Taylor, 39, singled out white men during the attack and reassured one
black woman in his path, "Not you, sister." After the shooting, police
said, they found a notebook in his apartment full of what they
characterized as anti-white, anti-Jewish writings.
Taylor kept a 'Satan list'
3 March 2000
On a day he was
arraigned on hate crimes charges in a shooting spree that claimed its
third victim yesterday, a profile of Ronald Taylor began to emerge: an
angry loner with a history of mental illness and obsessions about race.
The charges against Taylor came six
months after he had been discharged from the psychiatric unit at St.
Francis Medical Center and one day after police who searched his
apartment found lengthy screeds denouncing a variety of races and
Putting the pieces together
The people who knew Ronald Taylor say
they thought of him as 'a nice young fellow'
3 March 2000
The idea that Ronald
Taylor could one day go on a deadly shooting spree is still incredibly
difficult to believe for David Ellis, a janitor at an East Liberty
apartment building who knew Taylor when he lived there for more than
"He never caused any trouble that I
knew of," Ellis said yesterday.
Another acquaintance, a woman who
grew up with Taylor in the Hill District, said shooting five people -
and killing three of them - was not something she could picture him
Suspect in Wilkinsburg killings
sent to Mayview
10 March 2000
Ronald Taylor, the
suspect in the March 1 shooting rampage in Wilkinsburg, doesn't know
what he did or that he's charged in killing three men and wounding two
others, a psychiatrist testified yesterday at a competency hearing.
Dr. Christine Martone, chief
psychiatrist for the Allegheny County Behavior Clinic, said because of
that and Taylor's "strong history of psychiatric illness," he should be
transferred from the county jail to Mayview State Hospital for
competency evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.
Suspect 'blinded by hate'
Police find anti-white writings;
By Marisol Bello and Jennifer
After Ronald Taylor was charged with preying on his
victims because they were white during the deadly Wilkinsburg rampage,
the shackled prisoner turned to his mother and whispered, "I love you,
It was the first glimpse Shirley Taylor had of her
second youngest child since he was charged in Wednesday's bloody spree
that left three men dead and two others critically injured.
Yesterday afternoon, Taylor, 39, was charged with
ethnic intimidation - a hate crime - for targeting white men during the
attacks. Taylor is black.
Allegheny County police said they also found "anti-white,"
anti-Semitic writings in his apartment, which he set on fire.
Investigators would not release the contents of the writings.
The FBI is investigating the shootings for civil
Taylor's lawyer, James Ecker, said he was unaware of
any racist tendencies by his client.
"I'm white and I'm his lawyer,'' Ecker said.
Taylor faces murder charges for the shooting deaths
of John Kroll, 55, of Calbot, Butler County, and Joseph Healy, 71, of
A third murder charge is expected in the death of
Emil Sanielevici, who died from a head wound at 6:15 p.m. yesterday at
UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Oakland.
Taylor was also charged with aggravated assault,
arson and weapons and related offenses.
Police said Taylor torched his one-bedroom efficiency
on Wood Street, shot Kroll with a .22-caliber pistol, then stormed up
Penn Avenue toward two fast-food restaurants.
At a Burger King, he shot Healy, a former Catholic
priest, then crossed the street to McDonald's, where he targeted Richard
Clinger, 56, of North Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, as he
pulled into the parking lot in his van, police said.
Taylor went inside McDonald's and shot the assistant
manager behind the counter, Steven Bostard, 25, of Swissvale, then shot
Sanielevici, 20, of Greenfield, as he sat in his car at the drive-through
window waiting for his order, police said.
Allegheny County police are also looking at Taylor as
a possible suspect in the case of a woman whose skeletal remains were
found early Wednesday morning in a fire at a Penn Hills auto wrecking
Assistant Allegheny County police Superintendent
Kenneth Fulton acknowledged yesterday that investigators want to talk to
Taylor about the case.
"Based on a situation like this, the time element and
the fire element, naturally it would cause us to look at him," Fulton
Yesterday, Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht
said the woman was between the ages of 25 and 40. Her race had not been
determined, but he said she had been stabbed in the neck and head.
Wecht said the woman probably died from the neck
wounds and that her body was most likely set on fire after she died.
As police and residents of the working-class suburb
east of Pittsburgh grappled with the aftermath of the shootings
yesterday, new details about the reclusive Taylor slowly filtered out.
The anti-white scrawlings found by police did not
surprise John DeWitt, who said he experienced Taylor's fury firsthand.
DeWitt, 63, a white maintenance worker at the
Woodside Apartments where Taylor lived, said Taylor hated him from the
moment he moved in last June.
"He asked me if I was a racist,'' DeWitt said. "I
told him no, but ... he didn't like me.''
DeWitt said Taylor's unexplainable anger continued up
until Wednesday when he threatened DeWitt's life moments before the
DeWitt had been repairing Taylor's front door with
the maintenance man, John Kroll. Taylor became increasingly agitated
because the repairs were taking too long.
At one point, Taylor came at him in threatening way,
DeWitt said, but he backed off when DeWitt grabbed a hammer for
"He looked me in the eye and said, `You're a dead man,'
" DeWitt recalled.
Minutes later, police said, Taylor shot Kroll in
front of the apartment, searched unsuccessfully for DeWitt, then headed
for the McDonald's and Burger King on Penn Avenue, where he found the
"I keep thinking that maybe if they hadn't sent me,
he wouldn't have gotten angry,'' DeWitt said. "Maybe then nothing would
Taylor has shown no remorse over the shootings,
police said. He was laughing and smiling shortly after his arrest.
"He's been relatively cocky,'' said Allegheny County
Homicide detective, Lt. John Brennan.
But Ecker, who was retained by Taylor's family, said,
"Obviously he is unhappy about what happened."
Yesterday, Taylor, clad in a red prison jumpsuit,
remained expressionless during the 10-minute arraignment.
When District Justice Alberta Thompson asked him if
he understood the charges against him, he answered, "No. Not really.''
Taylor told the judge he had no prior criminal
record, but said he did have a history of mental illness.
Thompson set a $500,000 straight cash bond and
ordered behavioral evaluation for Taylor. She also ordered him not to
contact the victims.
A coroner's inquest is set for March 13.
Taylor smiled at relatives, including his mother, who
stood in the back of the hearing room. He told one man, "I love you, man."
The relatives did not identify themselves to
reporters, but several sobbed as they left the district justice's office.
On Wednesday, a man who identified himself as Ronald
Taylor's brother called a Christian radio talk show on WORD-FM to
express his grief over the slayings.
Chuck Taylor said his brother had a history of mental
problems, but they were never severe and he had never hurt anyone.
"He's never been arrested,'' Chuck Taylor said. "He's
never done anything. I'm still shocked, devastated."
Chuck Taylor said Ronald was raised in a Christian
family, with five siblings and parents who've been married for almost 40
"We are a loving family,'' Taylor said.
"I feel bad for Ron. But our cries and our hearts go
out to the victims and their families also because they didn't know Ron.
They didn't do anything to Ron."
Little else was known about Ronald Taylor, who was
unemployed and received disability payments from the Social Security
The .22-caliber handgun police say Taylor used in the
shootings was purchased by his grandfather 18 years ago, according to
the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Taylor had rented his fifth floor apartment on Wood
Street using a Section 8 certificate, said Frank Aggazio, the executive
director of the Allegheny County Housing Authority.
His neighbors said they barely noticed the burly,
"He didn't say too much to anyone,'' said Monique
Frost, a mental health therapist whose mother lives in the apartment
across from Taylor's.
"He seemed disgruntled,'' she said. Frost said Taylor
would often call the management company to complain about noise when her
young nephews came to visit her mother.
Yesterday, Wilkinsburg residents tried to resume life
as usual in the wake of the violence.
The McDonald's, which had been sealed off with yellow
police tape, reopened at 4:30 p.m.
At a televised town hall meeting last night, more
than 100 residents gathered to air their grief.
Jim Alles, a relative of Joseph Healy, one of the
slain, said the killings go beyond gun control and hate.
"Certainly this man was blinded by hate, because if
he could see he would not have shot Joe Healy," Alles said, crying. "He
was haunted by a demon called mental illness. He was hurting, there was
no doubt he was hurting."
Wilkinsburg shooting suspect
left suicide note, profanity-laced screed
Gunman's writings filled with hate
By Michael A. Fuoco -
Tuesday, March 07, 2000
suicide note and a five-page screed titled "Personal Legit Feelings"
discovered in Ronald Taylor's apartment show the suspect in last week's
Wilkinsburg shooting rampage at times reflecting on lifelong health
problems and at others spewing racial and ethnic attacks from which few
the title page of the suicide note, Taylor, 39, who has a history of
mental illness, writes that anyone who reads it should feel free to
contact former counselors "to let them know I finally followed through
with my plan."
"To my family
starting with you, mother, who I love so much, I know this will
probably destroy your life but I've been suffering physically for
too long. ... I've been experiencing so many different health
problems from the time that I was born till now.
"I've been patient
year after year, decade after decade with my health but I decided to end
Post-Gazette yesterday examined photocopies of the signed, undated,
hand-printed writings. Police found them in a backpack in Taylor's
Wood Street apartment in Wilkinsburg after the shootings, which left
three dead and two seriously wounded. The siege was racially
motivated, police have charged; Taylor is black and the victims
Taylor's writings are very legible and include both complete and
fragmented sentences and numerous misspellings and grammatical errors.
He jumps without transition from a reflective to an aggressive tone.
Often, the change is accompanied by a change from lowercase to uppercase
"So [expletive] Jesus Christ," he writes after saying
he has decided to end it all. "You no good, heartless, evil, bias,
favoritism, Jewish cold-blood [expletive]. And most of all [expletive]
the entire world."
But just as quickly, the mood changes once again.
"I'm sorry, mother, for taking my own life with your
gun that I sneaked for the second time in two years.
"Try to understand when a person is physically
suffering for a long time ... and I'm treated by racist, biased doctors
and nurses who so often give me generic, cheap medication that is
ineffective [and] causes return visits to emergency rooms [that]
frustration so often sets in. I get fed up with doctors treating black
patients differently from whites in terms of unfairness, unequally and
"Jesus Christ made a very costly mistake putting
white people on the face of the earth. ... I'll see all of my enemies in
hell. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha."
Taylor did not say what his physical ailments were.
In the other writing, which has a title page of "Death
to Jerusalem" with drawings of blood dripping from the word "death,"
Taylor begins: "As long as the system remains racist white and racist
Jew, black people will never overcome. ... Poor blacks will remain poor
with no hope as God continues to look down on us with complete neglect
and no intervention."
And then he begins launching invective -- at whites,
Jews, Asians, Italians, white police officers, "feds," and "Uncle Tom"
He gives "a big thumb up--way to go" to both Adolf
Hitler and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and predicts what he
calls "the United Snakes of America will burn in hell."
The Post-Gazette did not see a hand-printed one-page
"Satan List" denoting Taylor's "targets," including addresses of various
businesses in the Wilkinsburg-Pittsburgh area. Police have said
previously that neither the McDonald's nor the Burger King restaurants
in Wilkinsburg -- where four of the five victims were shot -- was on the
In addition to three homicide charges and other
charges related to shootings, Taylor also is charged with ethnic
intimidation under Pennsylvania's hate crime statute.
Police said Taylor, apparently enraged by what he
considered the slow replacement of his apartment door, set fire to his
residence; killed a maintenance man inside the building; fatally shot
another man inside the Burger King on Penn Avenue; shot the other three
victims outside and inside the nearby McDonald's; and fired two errant
shots at Wilkinsburg police officers before surrendering inside a nearby
Yesterday, on the day two of those killed were
memorialized in services, the conditions of the two wounded survivors
were upgraded to fair. Steven Bostard is in UPMC Presbyterian and
Richard Clinger was moved to the UPMC rehabilitation facility in
As revealing as Taylor's writings might be, there was
little in his apartment to denote the anger apparently raging inside him.
"Apart from the fire damage, it was an average-looking
apartment," said Allegheny County homicide Detective Regis Kelly, who
searched the residence. "Judging from what I could see it appeared to be
a neat, orderly place where, more or less, everything had its place.
"Basically, it was a normal apartment with fairly
decent furniture considering what his economic status was."
The refrigerator had a normal amount of food in it.
There was a normal amount of clothing.
There was a video game console with boxing and
football game cassettes. In a closet were vinyl record albums and 45s,
primarily music from the '70s.
There were no books or periodicals but quite a number
of newspapers -- folded and stacked in a closet -- that detectives are
perusing to see any articles that might be relevant to the incident. But
it's possible, Kelly said, the newspapers were only there because Taylor
used them on wire hangers so his pants wouldn't get creased.
Nothing really stood out, except for what Kelly
described as "items" placed neatly on a wall. He declined to reveal what
they were other than to say they "gave the impression that the
individual had a dislike for certain groups."
Shortly after the search began, Kelly said, the
writings were discovered in a notebook in a backpack.
Taylor was not a recluse who never left his home,
neighbors told police, but, they added, they never saw anyone visit his
"No one seemed to have a lot of information about him,"
Every so often, Taylor walked a few blocks from his
old apartment in East Liberty on Penn Circle West to Liberty Video on
George Tanner, who owns the store, yesterday said
Taylor was "very pleasant" and occasionally came in the store with his
brother, Chuck. Taylor's name was still in the computer at the store,
but he hadn't checked out any movies since May 1997.
"I have to say that I was really surprised when I saw
what happened," Tanner said. "He was never a problem here. He was
friendly, kept to himself. Sometimes he was a little aloof, but we all
are. There was no evidence that he had some kind of problem."
William Blair, who went to high school with Taylor,
said he had ran into him occasionally over the years, including seeing
him about a year ago.
"He seemed fine to me," said Blair, a sales
representative at the New Pittsburgh Courier newspaper. "This was the
first I've heard of him being a mental patient. He was soft-spoken and
quiet. If he knew you, he talked to you.
"This is all a shocker. It makes you wonder."
Wilkinsburg killer of 3
to die, judge confirms
O'Toole also sentences
Taylor to 65 to 130 years in prison
By Jim McKinnon -
Saturday, January 12,
A judge yesterday
ordered what a jury previously had decided: that Ronald Taylor should
die by lethal injection for the March 1, 2000, racially motivated
shootings in Wilkinsburg in which three men were killed and two others
Common Pleas Judge
Lawrence J. O'Toole didn't stop there, adding 65 to 130 years to the
"These offenses are more
onerous than usual," O'Toole told Taylor. "You're obviously a poor
candidate for rehabilitation. You showed no remorse during the trial and
you show no remorse now."
Taylor, 41, was
convicted Nov. 8 on 46 counts, including three counts of homicide; four
counts of aggravated assault; three counts each of making terroristic
threats and unlawful restraint; and one count of arson.
Before O'Toole ruled, a
tearful Carol Kroll, widow of one of the victims, said, "I think Ronald
Taylor needs to pay for this with his life. He pulled the trigger ...
for no other reason but that [Kroll] was white. He took my life as
Taylor is black. All of
his victims were white.
"Ronald Taylor, you're
an evil man," Carol Kroll continued. "I hope you suffer greatly every
day while you're waiting to die."
Her husband, John Kroll,
55, of Cabot, a carpenter, had not been involved in the dispute that
triggered Taylor's rampage. It was between Taylor and John DeWitt, a
maintenance man with whom Taylor had a running feud largely centered on
race. But in looking for DeWitt, Taylor came upon Kroll and shot him to
Taylor then walked into
the Wilkinsburg business district, where, at two fast-food restaurants,
he shot and killed Joseph Healy, 71, of Wilkinsburg, and Emil
Sanielevici, 20, of Greenfield.
Taylor also shot Richard
Clinger, 57, of North Huntingdon, and Steve Bostard, 26, of Swissvale.
Authorities found a
suicide note and other writings from Ronald Taylor in a backpack at his
apartment. The writings spoke of hatred for "racist whites."
Following is an excerpt
from his suicide note:
Try to understand ...
when a person is physically suffering for a long time ... and I'm
treated by racist bias doctors and nurses who so often gives me generic
... cheap medication that is inaffective, much causes return visits to
emergency rooms and frustration so often sets in. I got fed up with
doctors treating black patients different from whites ... in terms of
unfairness, unequal, and like dirt.
Jesus Christ made a very
big costly mistake by putting white trash people on the face of the
earth ... Why? How so? ...
Just look at this world
... the way it is ... racism, evil, greed, hate, wicketness, faggs,
domination, power & control, criminals, murderers, dykes, racists
I'll see all my enemy's
in hell. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.
P.S. Lights out.
We all have to die someday.
Ronald Taylor gets death sentence
By Tom Barnes
Monday, November 12, 2001
Convicted murderer Ronald Taylor stared straight at
the jury but showed no emotion as, one by one, all 12 of the jurors said
he should be executed for killing three white men last year in a
racially motivated shooting rampage in Wilkinsburg.
But Taylor's sister, Shirlynn, burst into
uncontrollable sobs as the 41-year-old black defendant was led from the
courtroom in handcuffs yesterday morning by five sheriff's deputies.
Taylor's sister, his mother, Shirley, and two
brothers, Chuck and Khalil, walked quickly past reporters and said they
would no have comment on the verdict.
Carol Kroll, the wife of one of Taylor's victims,
55-year-old carpenter John Kroll, was also crying as she spoke to
reporters afterward. Relatives of the other two victims, Joseph Healy,
71, and Emil Sanielevici, a 20-year-old college student, were near to
In addition to the three men Taylor shot to death on
March 1, 2000, he also wounded two other white men, Steve Bostard and
Richard Clinger. They were in the courtroom of Common Pleas Judge
Lawrence O'Toole when the sentence was read just before 11 a.m.
On Friday, the jury of six men and six women
convicted Taylor of three counts of first-degree murder and numerous
other charges stemming from the shootings in Wilkinsburg's business
district that stunned the community.
The jurors deliberated for about six hours Saturday
afternoon and night in the sentencing phase of the trial without
reaching a verdict. They returned to work about 9:30 a.m. yesterday and,
about an hour and 15 minutes later, filed somberly into the courtroom to
announce their decision.
The jury rejected an option of sentencing Taylor to
life in prison without hope of parole.
O'Toole ordered a presentencing report to be done,
then he will formally sentence Taylor to death. Taylor will become the
246th person on death row in Pennsylvania.
Most of the jurors filed out of the courtroom
yesterday without commenting. The foreman, Mark Churchin of Robinson,
said merely that their task in deciding Taylor's fate was "very
Juror Joy Webb said, "The whole trial was very hard
and very emotional. It impacted a whole community. We took that all into
consideration when we made our decision. I'm very glad it's over."
Juror Ronald Pastorek of Harrison said later that the
jury worked very hard on the case, "as evidenced by the time it took to
"There were some points that were clear and certain
and other matters" had to be discussed, he said.
In dismissing the jury, O'Toole thanked them "for
your efforts and your obvious dedication."
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala
Jr. also thanked jurors "for their diligence and thoughtful
consideration of all that was involved in this matter," in a written
statement released yesterday. Zappala offered condolences to the
families of the victims.
Kroll, choking back her tears, said, "I know it was
very hard for those jurors to do their job. I thank them very much."
Sanielevici's father, Sergiu, and mother, Michaela,
said they were grateful to the jury "for doing their duty."
As for the death sentence, Michaela Sanielevici said,
"I feel Mr. Taylor brought it onto himself with his actions."
She said she "hoped to put this matter behind us now"
but conceded she'll never be able to do that completely. She had several
pictures of her son yesterday and said, "He's with me. I'm with him
Sergiu Sanielevici said he was glad to see the jury
"recognized that Mr. Taylor's crime was the worst crime an individual
can commit. So it follows that you have to get the maximum punishment
for it. Multiple homicide informed by racial hatred is not only
destructive of individual life but of the fabric of society."
Kroll said that even though Taylor received a
sentence of death, he will still have months, if not years, to see and
talk with his family because of the automatic appeal of the sentence
that state law requires.
She carried photos of her husband's grave and
headstone, saying: "This is where I see my husband. This is where the
kids and I have to go to see him.
"Dear John," she said, her voice trailing off in
sadness. "Now I have to pull myself together."
John Kroll, a carpenter, wasn't even involved in a
dispute that Taylor had had with a white maintenance man named John
DeWitt. Taylor had a running feud, centered largely on race, with
DeWitt, according to court testimony. But while he was looking for
DeWitt, Taylor came upon Kroll and shot him to death.
Taylor then walked into the Wilkinsburg business
district, where he shot and killed both Healy and Sanielevici in a
fast-food restaurant, and shot and wounded Clinger and Bostard.
Neither Bostard nor Clinger would comment on Taylor's
But Healy's sister, Mary Healy, said she was opposed
to the death penalty for Taylor.
Healy, who is a member of the Sisters of Mercy in
Connecticut, said each person's grieving process is a "complicated
She added, "If we are still in that time of rage, it
gets in the way of our faith and our underlying commitment to life."
As for people who want the death penalty imposed, she
said, "I'm afraid they will find, when everything quiets down, that it
hasn't helped. I see no value in taking a human life. And I don't see it
as the role of the state to do that. It's a violation, for me, of the
basic dignity and value of each and every life in God's eyes."
When the jury announced the death penalty yesterday,
Healy said she felt "a kind of numbness."
She added, "There's nothing to be gained by it. This
man was never going to be freed to do harm to anyone else." Healy said
that while she is grieving the death of her brother, she also feels
sadness and compassion for the members of Taylor's family.
Healy's words were echoed in a statement from Bishop
Donald W. Wuerl released by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh last
"It is regrettable that, once again, a choice has
been made to respond to violence with more violence," Wuerl said. "We
have the means to protect society from even the most violent criminal
without having to resort to the death penalty. Life imprisonment without
parole serves the need for justice and at the same time reaffirms the
essential dignity of all human life."
Wilkinsburg Mayor Wilbert Young said he felt the end
of the trial would let the families of victims and the residents of the
borough traumatized by the shootings move on with their lives.
"Personally I was hoping there would not be a death
penalty, but I think the jury clearly put some thought into this and I
know it was not easy for them," he said. "On behalf of the citizens of
Wilkinsburg, we respect the decision of the jurors and appreciate their
John Elash, Taylor's defense attorney, said he "wasn't
necessarily shocked" at the death sentence. He said the jury "was
predisposed, by their morality, by their understanding of society, to
give the death penalty." He said they would have been disqualified from
serving on the jury if they had said they were totally opposed to the
Taylor had pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. A
defense psychiatrist, Dr. Horatio Fabrega, said he thought Taylor was
suffering from deep-seated paranoia and schizophrenia that had plagued
him much of his life.
But prosecutor Edward J. Borkowski contended that
Taylor had the mental capacity to know that his actions were wrong.
Elash saved his harshest criticism yesterday for the
law that allows victims' relatives to address a jury -- before
sentencing -- about the impact the crime has had upon them. He said that
just adds emotion to an already difficult situation and makes it almost
impossible for the jury to do its work dispassionately.
"This political baloney of these impact statements [resulted
from] where some stupid Republican senator wanted to get elected to
Congress, so he allows these impact statements," he said angrily.
The jury members "listen to two days of tearful
testimony and see pictures of the loved ones in happy moments. They
cried for a day. They go through two boxes of Kleenex. Then the judge
says we want you to ignore" the impact statements when the jury makes
But Elash praised the way O'Toole handled the trial,
saying it had been very fair.
"There is no judge in this courthouse I'd rather have
been in front of," he said. "I have nothing but the highest respect for