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Dante Taylor, convicted killer, dies in prison, officials say

Dante Taylor at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead

Dante Taylor at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on July 29, 2016, when he was sentenced to life without parole for killing Sarah Goode. Credit: James Carbone

Dante Taylor, the Mastic man serving a life sentence in prison for the murder of a young Medford mother, died Saturday in an upstate New York hospital, officials confirmed Monday.

Taylor, 22, was sentenced last year to life in prison without parole for the 2014 stabbing death of Sarah Goode, 21.

The ex-Marine was pronounced dead at 11:51 a.m. Saturday at a hospital in Erie County, said an official with the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. He had been serving his sentence at the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo.

The cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner, the official said.

The correction department’s office of special investigations has opened a probe into how Taylor died, the official said. The office investigates all prison deaths. The official declined to provide the circumstances of Taylor’s death or any preliminary cause-of-death findings, citing the ongoing investigation.

A post on a Facebook page set up by Goode’s family read in part, “The monster who so violently ended Sarah’s young life will no longer breathe another breath, will no longer see another day, will no longer have the privilege of living a life — something he made certain she could not do. Sarah’s beauty is eternal. Her laugh is unforgettable. Her memories are carved in the hearts of all whom she met.”

Taylor was convicted in June 2016 of first-degree murder. Goode was stabbed more than 40 times early on June 7, 2014.

Prosecutors said Taylor met Goode at a party earlier in the evening and then met her again later closer to her Medford home. They say that after she apparently resisted his advances, he raped and killed her and left her body in the woods.

Her abandoned, blood-soaked car bore a bloody palm print later matched to Taylor. But even before her body was found on June 12, police focused on Taylor after realizing he was the last person to call her phone, and he did so while traveling toward her home.

Taylor’s trial was marked by police and prosecutorial misconduct. His first arrest was essentially voided after police took his fingerprints, DNA and cellphone without probable cause and questioned him without reading him his rights. He was arrested again a month later in Florida.

During the trial, state Supreme Court Justice John Collins sanctioned the prosecution for withholding evidence from the defense, including a series of Crime Stoppers tips pointing to other possible suspects. Police also destroyed a threatening voice mail message from the boyfriend with whom Goode had just split.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Taylor’s trial attorney, John Lewis Jr. of Farmingdale. “His death is just another injustice in a string of injustices. I just hope someone is held accountable for his death. Now Suffolk County will not be held accountable for the injustices it committed in getting his conviction.”

Taylor’s family was not available for comment.

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