EUGENE, Ore. - Friends and family of Celestino Gutierrez filled the courtroom Wednesday as attorneys continued to argue whether the man convicted of killing the 22-year-old in August 2012 should go to prison for life - or face death for his crime.
The testimony by current and former inmates paint a picture of a prison life where even a convicted murderer can make "a real positive impact" by standing up to sex slavery and taking newly convicted murderers under his wing.
Life in prison - or death?
A jury convicted David Ray Taylor of kidnapping and murdering Gutierrez.
Now the jury must weigh his punishment.
The prosecution on Tuesday dug deeper into the 1977 murder of 21-year-old Constance Roland, a gas station attendant in Eugene.
Taylor, who was in his early 20s at the time, was convicted and served 27 years in prison for Roland's murder.
Like Gutierrez, Taylor lured Roland into a trap.
Like Gutierrez, Taylor dump Roland's body on rural Battle Creek Road.
Defense calls 7 witnesses, including 3 current inmates
The defense got is turn Wednesday, calling 7 witnesses to the stand to testify on behalf of Taylor spending the rest of his life in a regular prison instead of on death row.
The first witness, Phillip Lehman, served as Taylor’s parole officer in 2005. Lehman said Taylor was compliant in his parole obligations and was engaged in programs in the community.
Lehman said he was surprised to learn Taylor would murder again.
“Sometimes you can be fooled,” he said.
The defense then called Raymond Roy to the stand. Roy works for a recycling company in Salem and is now 6 years out of jail.
Roy was incarcerated for 24 years in the Oregon State Penetentiary for 2 felony murders of his brother and sister-in-law, which is where he met Taylor.
“When you enter prison, you have a choice, to become a trouble maker - or make something of your life,” Roy said.
Roy said Taylor chose the latter and was very involved in multiple prison clubs and activities. Roy said he never saw Taylor be unpleasant with staff.
The prosecution concluded by asking if Roy had been assaulted, robbed or murdered anyone when he was on parole like Taylor did. Roy answered, “No.”
Following Roy’s testimony, 3 current inmates were called to the stand.
The first, Ronald Weaver, is currently serving time in the Oregon State penitentiary on multiple rape and sodomy charges. Weaver stated he was friend s with Taylor while in prison, saying “David was a real positive impact on everyone I knew, and myself. Younger inmates respected him.”
Second, Dwain Little took the stand. Little has been incarcerated for 47 years for murder and a number of other charges. Little said that while in prison, Taylor was involved in stopping other inmates “strong arming and sex slaving younger inmates.”
Third, David Peel, who entered prison at 21 on a life sentence for aggravated murder of woman in front of her three children in 1992 stated,
“David took me under his wing,” Peel said, who entered prison at 21 on a life sentence for aggravated murder of woman in front of her three children in 1992.
The two shared a cell for 6 years. He called Taylor “a caring individual willing to help people.”
The prosecution then argued that a hierarchy exists in prison, which Taylor would re-join. With Taylor’s past of violence and coercion, who’s to say Taylor would not resort back to that?
Next, James Aiken, a past prison warden, and now a criminal consultant gave his opinion that, based on his record review, “Taylor can be safely incarcerated in the State penitentiary without causing risk to staff, inmates, or the general community.” Aiken believes Taylor will be compliant in prison.
The prosecution rebutted by re-stating Taylor’s past.
In 1977, Taylor was convicted of murdering Roland, a Eugene gas station attendant.
In 1984, Taylor was disciplined for a conspiracy to assault another inmate.
In 1985, Taylor attempted to smuggle drugs into the prison, then in 1989, Taylor was found with amphetamines and THC in his urine.
The prosecution then stated that in 1994, Taylor’s counselor said “Taylor has strong criminal loyalties.
As its final witness, the defense called Dr. Thomas Reidy, a board certified forensic psychologist.
Reidy deals with violence risk assessment and is a prison issues specialist.
In his testimony, Reidy said age does make a difference of acts of violence in prison.
Taylor, who is 58, will become less violent and more compliant as time progresses, Reidy said. He also mentioned a history of violence does not have a direct correlation with future violent acts, and if Taylor is locked up, he does not pose future danger to his environment.
Closing statements will be heard Thursday morning.
A sentencing date has not yet been released.