CHRISTIANSBURG — Amanda Taylor will spend the rest of her life in prison after a jury found her guilty of first-degree murder.
The trial, which was expected to take two days, opened Thursday with a Montgomery County prosecutor telling the jury that Amanda Taylor “deliberately and brutally stabbed” her former father-in-law, Charles Taylor, 31 times with a bayonet-shaped knife.
Amanda Taylor, 24, was charged with the April 4 murder of Charles Taylor in his home near Ironto.
After several hours of hearing the prosecution’s case, the defense rested without presenting any witnesses or evidence.
Evidence in the case included a “selfie” taken at the crime scene showing Amanda Taylor clutching a bloody knife. She published the photo on social media and sent it to a “friend who runs a serial killer website,” according to Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt.
Amanda Taylor sat through much of the trial smirking behind covered hands as prosecutors outlined the violent crime.
Testimony throughout the trial pointed to a troubled life for Amanda Taylor, with two stints in a psychiatric facility and anger issues growing up.
Amanda Taylor’s attorney, Ryan Hamrick, didn’t deny that the evidence in the case against his client was overwhelming.
“Amanda Taylor killed Charles Taylor. We’re going to make that easy for you,” Hamrick said in an opening statement. “Amanda Taylor had what she felt were very strong justifications for doing what she did.”
Amanda Taylor met Rex Taylor in ninth grade, and the two began dating. She became pregnant with a son, now 8, and dropped out of school . They later had a daughter, who is 3.
The couple split in April 2014 over Rex’s prescription drug abuse, Hamrick said. Rex moved back home with his father, whom Amanda Taylor blamed for “enabling and allowing” Rex’s continued drug abuse, Hamrick said.
In August 2014, Rex Taylor killed himself in a shed on his father’s property.
“Love is a very strong motivator — a powerful and overwhelming motivator,” Hamrick said.
Days before Charles Taylor’s killing, Amanda Taylor attempted suicide at Rex’s gravesite, Hamrick said. Afterward, she was temporarily detained at Carilion Clinic St. Albans hospital in Montgomery County.
She was released April 1 over her and her mother’s objections, Hamrick said. Charles Taylor was killed three days later.
The commonwealth presented only a handful of witnesses, including Capt. Robert New with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Dr. Amy Tharp, assistant chief medical examiner in Roanoke.
WDBJ (Channel 7) news anchor Chris Hurst also testified in the trial. Hurst had contacted Amanda Taylor for an interview, which resulted in nearly an hour of recorded conversations between Taylor and Hurst.
In those interviews, Amanda Taylor described what it was like to kill Charles Taylor, equating it to an experience like her first roller coaster ride.
“I was excited. I know it sounds bad, but I was really excited,” Amanda Taylor told Hurst. “I know it’s not right, but that was something I chose to do to feel better.”
Amanda Taylor went on to tell Hurst that she chose to stab Taylor to death because “this was a personal kill… I wanted to watch him die.”
The jury took less than 30 minutes to deliberate . Once the jury returned the guilty verdict, Amanda Taylor’s mother, Maranda Light, took the stand and recounted her daughter’s life growing up.
“I tried to love her. I tried to talk to her. I never saw any major issues,” Light said through tears. “She was always just angry.”
Rex Taylor’s death was the catalyst to the anger issues, according to Light, who said Amanda changed after Rex Taylor committed suicide on their son’s seventh birthday.
“She never grieved over it…Her eyes just went empty,” Light said.
Amanda Taylor took the stand, but offered little in the way of remorse for her actions.
The minimum sentence Amanda Taylor could have received was 20 years. Pettitt asked the jury to sentence her to the maximum life in prison.
“You are here because the defendant wants the attention in this case. She wants the world to know she’s a killer,” Pettitt said. “Amanda Taylor decided her own fate. She’s the one that brought us here today because of her actions.”
Hamrick asked the jury to show “compassion” for Amanda Taylor.
But ultimately, the jury of five women and seven men took approximately 75 minutes to return a life sentence for Amanda Taylor.
After the sentence was read, she shouted to her close friend, Mariah Roebuck, who was watching in the gallery: “I love you Mariah, I’m so sorry.”
That was the only apology Taylor offered during the 10-hour trial.