FARMINGTON — Jill Allen's killer on Wednesday detailed her life-and-death struggle against him in her North Salt Lake condo in the trial Wednesday of Allen's husband, who is accused of paying George Anthony Taylor to murder her.
Hiding in the condo's hallway as Jill Allen returned home from work on Aug. 28, 1996, Taylor said he had a gun in his left hand and punched her with his right. She screamed and fought him and they both fell to the floor.
"I got on top of her, showed her the pistol and told her not to scream. I couldn't shoot her, and I tried to hit her with the back of the gun to try to knock her unconscious. It didn't work and I tried to strangle her with my hands."
That didn't work either, he said, so he got a bat from the condo's weight room and hit her on the head, knocking her unconscious. He then started to strangle her using a belt he found in the weight room, but she revived and again struggled against him before finally dying.
Taylor said he was two months behind on rent and had run up gambling debts when in April 1996, an acquaintance at work, Joseph Sergious Wright, told him that Paul Allen would pay him $10,000 to kill Jill Allen. He testified that he went to the Allens' condo several times between then and August but could not bring himself to follow through with the slaying as planned — shooting her in the condo complex's parking lot.
Taylor said he finally received a key to the Allens' condo from Wright and asked Wright how he had come by the key. "He said it was from Paul," Taylor said.
He said he saw Jill Allen's mother on television several times after the slaying, asking for help in solving her daughter's murder. Taylor said he eventually told authorities everything because, "first and foremost, I wanted to give some answers to Jill's family. . . . I felt that was the least that I could do to help them, not to mention the guilt that was wreaking havoc on my inner peace."
Prosecutors are trying to convict Paul Allen of capital murder for allegedly hiring Wright and Taylor to kill his wife so he could cash in a $250,000 life insurance policy.
During testimony Tuesday in 2nd District Court, Brandon Nicholsen said he came to police on April 1, 1997 and told them of conversations he'd had with Wright and Taylor about Jill Allen's murder.
"Did he tell you who was paying for it?" prosecutor Bill McGuire asked.
"He mentioned the name Paul," Nicholsen responded.
In conversations with Taylor after the murder, Nicholsen said Taylor mentioned that Paul Allen had given him a key so he could get into the apartment to commit the murder. Nicholsen, Taylor and Wright all worked at the same floor-finishing company.
Nicholsen also said Taylor asked him on several occasions how to kill someone and even requested Nicholsen's assistance in carrying out the crime.
Each time, Nicholsen either refused or didn't show up. Nicholsen also helped Taylor burn the clothes he wore the night of the murder.
North Salt Lake Police detective John Herndon said Nicholsen was given immunity from being prosecuted in exchange for his testimony.
During cross-examination, however, lead defense attorney Ron Yengich hinted at a plot Wright, Taylor and Nicholsen concocted to "get a lighter sentence."
Yengich then read a statement written by Nicholsen: "Later he (Wright) said something peculiar to me — there's a way for Joe (Wright) and me to talk and get Tony (Taylor) a lesser sentence, but he didn't give any details."
The defense says Wright and Taylor planned the murder, then framed Paul Allen to reduce their punishment.
Yengich told jurors on Monday he has a "reasonable explanation" for an Aug. 26, 1996, debit card receipt that shows Paul Allen paid to have a key copied.
Yengich withheld the explanation for the time being, saying he didn't want to give Wright and Taylor another chance to change their story. "They've changed their story in this case so many times."