March 24, 2008

Johnia Berry > Accused Johnia Berry Murderer Taylor Lee Olson Hangs Himself

I've been offline while this news broke today. Thanks to everyone who sent me links.

WVLT - Taylor Olson's lawyer says letters identify other suspect in Berry death:

Johnia Berry's accused killer takes his own life, leaving behind letters saying he did not commit the murder. Now there are new questions about the investigation and what may be next. Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt has more.

Taylor Lee Olson's attorney held a news conference this afternoon. He stopped short of saying who his client accused of murder in his dying letters, but Johnia's mother says she's satisfied that Olson was responsible.

Taylor Lee Olson last spoke to us when he was first taken into custody. "It was an accident." But now, after his death, he is speaking again through letters he left behind.

Greg Isaacs, Olson's attorney says, "he has identified an individual that he says is responsible for the death of Johnia Berry." Isaacs would not tell us who Olson named in his letter.

Olson is the only one charged with the crime. He's been jailed since September on first degree murder and aggravated robbery charges.

The Sheriff's department says in a statement published on it's website that he was held in a cell alone. Officers checked on him every hour. Before 1:00 a.m. they found him with a piece of sheet around his neck, hanging from a clothes hook in the corner of his cell.

Knoxnews.com - DA's office says letters ID'ing alleged killer nothing new:

Court records show that Isaacs' theory of the crime grew out of a statement by Augustine Joseph Leon, 23, a confessed drug addict and friend of Olson and Cox.

Leon has told authorities that Cox admitted killing Berry in the botched burglary that Cox and Olson were carrying out at the Brendon Park apartment complex on Rhodora Road, where Berry lived with a roommate.

According to Leon's statement, Olson broke into what he thought was an unoccupied apartment when Berry armed herself with a knife and wounded Olson.

Cox then ran to Olson's aid and killed Berry as Olson, bleeding, ran from the apartment, according to Leon's account.

Note that Leon was not in the apartment the night of the murder, so everything he says is at best hearsay from Cox, and at worst completely invented by Leon. It seems like the blood stains (of which there were many) would tell whether Leon's story is plausible. Police have not found Cox's blood in the apartment. Olson was the one who went into the bedroom of Berry's roommate, Jason Amiyami, who gave the police the composite sketch that matched Olson. In the absence of any physical evidence linking Cox to the crime scene I don't believe his story.

I don't know what to think about Olson's suicide. Berry's family wanted answers, and now I don't think they're going to get them.

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack



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