For the family of CaSondra Evrard, healing did not begin on Friday. Even though it was the last time Evrard's mother, Carla Cruse, would face any of the people who killed her daughter in 2010, she said she still has a heavy heart.
"Day one hasn't come yet," Cruse said. "There is no closure. There's too many questions."
Jamie and Jasmine Taylor pleaded guilty Friday morning in front of a courtroom of Evrard's friends and family. Jamie Taylor accepted a sentence of life for charges of murder and kidnapping, with an extra five years tacked on for tampering with physical evidence. Jasmine Taylor, who entered an Alford plea in exchange for lesser charges, will serve 18 years for first-degree manslaughter.
Under an Alford plea, the defendant doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a conviction at trial.
Evrard, who was 21 at the time, was best friends with Jasmine Taylor. In December of 2010, Jasmine Taylor told her parents that Evrard had allowed her to be raped. The parents, Mark and Jamie Taylor, then lured Evrard over to their home under the guise of an ice cream party for Jasmine's birthday, where they tortured her until she died. Deputies found her body in Massac Creek a day later.
Deputies later arrested Taylor and her parents and charged them with murder and kidnapping. Four other defendants with connections to the Taylors - Denise, Destini and Brandi Marshall, and Zachary Finley - also faced charges in connection with the crime. Mark Taylor was convicted of murder and kidnapping in 2012 and is serving two life sentences.
Although Jasmine Taylor refused to speak, Jamie Taylor was outspoken during the Friday sentencing. She told the courtroom that she wanted a lesser sentence for her daughter because it was Jamie and her husband who had killed Evrard.
"She didn't do anything but come to the two people she should have when something was wrong," Jamie Taylor said. "It was us who made a mess of it. It says 'thou shalt not kill', and that's pretty cut and dry. We are in the wrong."
McCracken Circuit Court Judge Craig Clymer asked Jamie Taylor why she and her husband believed Jasmine's assertions, even though Jasmine had mental health issues early that week and was acting strangely throughout the night before telling her parents about the alleged rape.
"The last words she (CaSondra) said were 'I'm sorry'," Jamie Taylor told the judge, before the courtroom erupted in audible sobs from the victim's family. "You don't apologize if you aren't guilty."
Jamie Taylor told Clymer that she still believes her daughter was sexually assaulted, but Cruse spoke up during court to defend Evrard.
"Jasmine did do wrong," Cruse said. "She told a lie, a lie that ended up with her dying. CaSondra would still be here today if Jasmine hadn't told the lie."
Jasmine Taylor's attorney, Will Kautz, asked for a week's delay in the sentencing because Jasmine Taylor did not cooperate with representatives from the Probation and Parole Office during her presentence investigation, refusing to answer questions. Clymer refused the delay, and the presentence report will be added into her file when it is complete. Clymer did mention, however, that the competency report given by the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center indicated doctors believed Jasmine Taylor was embellishing her mental incapacity.
Cruse, speaking after the hearing, remembered her daughter as a fun loving and generous young lady, with a love for the color pink and butterflies. She said she spends a lot of time in CaSondra's bedroom and out near the creek where her body was found. She said she is pleased with the overall outcome of the case, but has already traveled to Frankfort twice to appear at the parole board hearings of people involved in the slaying.
Though she received a life sentence, Jamie Taylor could see a parole board after 20 years. First-degree manslaughter is a violent offense, so Jasmine Taylor will have to serve 85 percent - or 15 and a half years - before being eligible for parole.
"I think they should never get out," Cruse said. "They shouldn't be allowed to see each other or talk to each other. I can't see or talk to my daughter, why should they be able to?"
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.
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