Andrew Taylor spent 25 years behind bars for repeatedly raping an 8-year-old relative until a Miami-Dade judge threw out his conviction when the girl, now an adult, recanted the allegations.
Without the key witness, prosecutors were forced to abandon the case.
But a grand jury re-examined the issue and has now indicted Taylor, who spent 110 days free before he was re-arrested for capital sexual battery. The unique legal drama reignited Friday as Taylor appeared in court for arraignment, and his lawyer lashed out at the state for what he called a “malicious prosecution.”
“There is no new evidence,” defense lawyer Roy Kahn told a judge. “I think it’s a miscarriage of justice.”
At the heart of the indictment: After his release, Taylor asked the court to declare that he had been wrongfully incarcerated. That would make him eligible for up to $1.25 million in compensation from the state for his time behind bars.
The re-arrest suggests authorities believe the victim, after being approached by a defense investigator, might have recanted in some plot to get money — something Taylor’s team vehemently denies. For now, prosecutors plan to proceed to a second trial with multiple witnesses who heard the girl’s account of the attacks in 1990 and medical evidence suggesting the girl was indeed raped.
“While defense counsel may have his view of the case, the state has potentially a different view,” prosecutor Laura Adams told the judge.
Taylor, 50, will remain behind bars until a judge revisits whether he can be released to await trial.
The case began in March 1990, when the girl’s mother returned to her Miami home from an ice cream shop and found her daughter awake in bed and “smelled a sexual odor” in the air. The girl denied anyone had “messed” with her.
Three days later, according to prosecutors, the girl told her mother that Taylor had raped her that morning, earlier in the week and once at a different home. Enraged, supposedly for not being told earlier, the mother beat her daughter with a baseball bat. The mother was later arrested and convicted for the beating.
The girl recounted the rapes to her grandmother, a doctor at Jackson Memorial’s Rape Treatment Center , a Miami detective and several other interviewers.
She also repeated the story at a deposition in 1990, and despite her age, was “able to describe graphically sexual details” to jurors, prosecutor Amanda Newman wrote in a reply to Taylor’s request to vacate the conviction.
Dr. Valerie Rao, an associate medical examiner, also testified that girl had six healed internal tears consistent with a string of rapes.
Taylor was convicted in March 1991. Then-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas Carney sentenced him to life in prison.
Over the years, all of his appeals were denied. Several years ago, a defense investigator approached the girl, now a young woman, to talk about the case. She declined.
But then last year, another defense investigator, Jeannie Rodgers, approached the woman again. This time, she claimed in a sworn affidavit, she finally found the “courage to stand up and do what is right.”
The woman, now 32, claimed that her mother was a drug abuser who frequently came home intoxicated, demanding to know if Taylor had touched her.
“Finally, after an extensive beating, I told my mother that Andrew had touched me so that she would stop beating me,” the woman wrote in a sworn affidavit.
The woman said she was wracked by guilt for years, particularly because she maintained a relationship with Taylor’s son.
“I was so afraid of my mother that I thought if I ever told the truth that she would do terrible things to me,” she wrote.
At a deposition and a hearing in April, the woman repeated her recantation.
Prosecutors pointed out that she could not explain the internal injuries. The defense said the tears are not unusual for active children who run and play.
At the April hearing, Rao and the mother testified for the state. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Diane Ward found the erstwhile victim’s recantation credible and vacated the conviction and sentence.
Prosecutors, with no explanation for why the woman changed her story, declined to seek a retrial and dropped the case a few days later.
Then came Taylor’s request for compensation, which required a judge to declare someone has been wrongfully incarcerated.
Kahn, Taylor’s defense attorney, said his client found about the possibility of getting compensation 30 days after his release from jail — during a meeting at his office. He says any suggestion that the woman was promised money is bogus.
“They’ve had no communication. The first time they spoke was about two weeks ago,” Kahn said. “He told her he had no grudges against her.”