A Suffolk jury on Wednesday began the second day of deliberations in the murder case of Dante Taylor, on trial in the death of a young Medford mother two years ago.
Before a Suffolk prosecutor on Tuesday gave jurors a detailed explanation of how she contends the evidence shows Taylor raped and killed Sarah Goode, 21, she apologized for what she called the “elephant in the room.”
Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson was referring to her office’s withholding of evidence favorable to the defendant. With District Attorney Thomas Spota watching from the front row, Albertson spent 13 minutes saying she regretted not turning over CrimeStopper tips suggesting people other than Taylor, 21, of Mastic, was the one who killed Goode.
“That’s my responsibility,” Albertson said. “Having said that, those tips mean nothing. . . . Because of my screw up, [the defense] has the opportunity to stand on a platform and spew noise.”
The noise shouldn’t obscure evidence showing it was Taylor who met Goode in the early hours of June 7, 2014, on a deserted cul-de-sac in Medford, attacked her in her car, dragged her out of it into the woods and raped and stabbed her there more than 40 times, Albertson said.
After Albertson was finished and state Supreme Court Justice John Collins had instructed the jurors in Riverhead on the law, they began deliberating the charges of first-degree and second-degree murder against Taylor.
Albertson said there was a small window of time in which the crime happened, after Taylor’s last cellphone calls to Goode at 1:26 a.m. and when her phone went off the grid two hours later. Only Taylor knew where she was when she agreed to meet him then, Albertson said.
“What a stupid, stupid thing to do,” she said of Goode’s decision.
Albertson rejected defense attorney John Lewis Jr.’s claims that his client had consensual sex with Goode and that someone else attacked her where her bloody car was found on Fire Avenue. Instead, she said the attack happened at the end of Camden Court, an empty cul-de-sac where kids liked to drink and hang out.
She suggested Taylor became enraged when Goode likely rejected his advances and broke her nose in her car. Blood spatter in and on the car shows how she was dragged out of the driver’s seat and out the passenger side door.
“She’s bleeding because she’s struggling,” Albertson said. “But only for so long.”
Taylor then dragged her into the woods, Albertson said. There are no signs of an attack there because she’s incapacitated, the prosecutor said.
“Now the struggle is over,” Albertson said. “Now it’s just about domination.”
Bruises and the location of stab wounds clustered on the back of her head show she was sexually assaulted there in the woods and then finished off.
“That’s not a struggle,” Albertson said. “That’s not a voluntary sex act. That’s an animal. ... It happens quick and it happens in a rage.”
After the attack, with her blood on his hand, Albertson said, Taylor left a palm print on the hood of Goode’s BMW. Lewis, relying on one of two tests that was negative for DNA or blood, argued the print was there first before someone else flicked Goode’s blood onto it.
Albertson urged jurors to reject that theory.
“You know what you’re looking at,” she said. “Obviously, the handprint is in blood.”
She blamed the lack of blood found in the woods on rain in the days before her body was found. Lewis had suggested it takes more than a couple of days of rain to wash away blood, but Albertson pointed out that forensic scientists collect dried bloodstains all the time with nothing but a moistened cotton swab.
Albertson acknowledged detectives missed a spot of Goode’s blood found in Taylor’s car when they first searched it, but she rejected any suggestion that it had been planted. If anything, she said there may have been more of Goode’s blood before Taylor had the chance to clean his car.
“One drop is too many,” she said.
The murder case against Taylor isn’t consistent with the evidence and is tainted by prosecutorial and police misconduct, defense attorney Lewis said Monday in a nearly four-hour closing argument.
There was no sign of a struggle at the scene, and no blood there, despite the ferocity of the attack. Even allowing for some rain that fell in the five days it took to find her body, Lewis said it’s not credible that no blood at all would be found there.
“We are not talking about little amounts of blood,” he said. “The district attorney’s theory of what happened is not possible. It’s not consistent with common sense, and it is not consistent with the facts.”
An attack like that would leave the killer covered in blood, yet Lewis said none was found on any of his client’s clothes.