Some last-minute legal wrangling cleared the way for one of Leon Taylor’s accomplices to witness his execution early this morning, but when the time came the accomplice didn’t show.
Willie Owens is the half-brother of Leon Taylor and was with him on the night more than 20 years ago when Taylor killed convenience store manager Robert Newton in front of his then 8-year-old stepdaughter. Taylor on Tuesday asked that Willie Owens be added to the list of people that would witness his execution.
Department of Corrections spokesman Mike O’Connell said that request was initially denied by Corrections Director George Lombardi.
“Director Lombardi believed that for Owens to witness the execution and to be in the view of the victim’s family would have been further victimization of Robert Newton’s relatives,” O’Connell explained.
Taylor’s attorneys appealed to the state Supreme Court which ruled Owens could be a witness, but after telling Corrections he was on his way, Owens declined to come.
“He was asked if it was his choice not to attend, and [told] that the Department would wait for his arrival. Mr. Owens said that it was his choice not to attend.”
Taylor did have four witnesses at his execution, including a different brother and two nieces.