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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Hate crime - Shooting rampage
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: March 1, 2000
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1961
Victims profile: Joseph Healy, 71 / Emil Sanielevici, 20 / John Kroll, 55
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber revolver)
Location: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on January 11, 2002

photo gallery


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 hostages

Broken door sets off shootings, standoff

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

Maintenance worker 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 hurt

San Jose Mercury News

2 March 2000

Apparently inflamed 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, three wounded

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 wounded.

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 hospice center.


2 dead, 3 wounded in rampage

Police say anti-white writings found in home

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 dies

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'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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 religions.


Putting the pieces together

The people who knew Ronald Taylor say they thought of him as 'a nice young fellow'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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 eight years.

"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 doing.


Suspect in Wilkinsburg killings sent to Mayview

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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; charges filed

By Marisol Bello and Jennifer Sabol-Grinberg

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, mom.''

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 rights violations.

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 Wilkinsburg.

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 company.

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 said.

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 rampage began.

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 protection.

"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 other victims.

"I keep thinking that maybe if they hadn't sent me, he wouldn't have gotten angry,'' DeWitt said. "Maybe then nothing would have happened.''

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 years.

"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 Administration.

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, bareheaded man.

"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 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tuesday, March 07, 2000

A four-page 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 are spared.

On 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 it all."

The Pittsburgh 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 white.

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 letters.

"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 like dirt.

"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" blacks.

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 list.

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 office building.

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 Squirrel Hill.

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 apartment.

"No one seemed to have a lot of information about him," Kelly said.

Every so often, Taylor walked a few blocks from his old apartment in East Liberty on Penn Circle West to Liberty Video on Penn Avenue.

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 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Saturday, January 12, 2002

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 wounded.

Common Pleas Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole didn't stop there, adding 65 to 130 years to the death sentence.

"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 well."

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 death.

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. Both survived.

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 news-media, etc.

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 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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 tears.

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. yesterday.

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 difficult."

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 deliberate."

"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 every night."

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 sentence.

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 thing."

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 night.

"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 service."

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 death penalty.

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 its decision.

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 Judge O'Toole."



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