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A free man

Michael Taylor making his walk to freedom.

He was convicted and sentenced to hang at the age of 17 for killing elderly shopkeeper, Millicent Lyder, whose Bank Hall Road St. Michael business was located opposite where now sits Abundant Life Assembly.

And this morning, just before 11 o’clock, Michael Taylor, now age 45, originally of 3rd Avenue, Long Gap, Spooners Hill, St. Michael, walked out of the Dodds Prison in St. Philip, a free man, with only a black carry on bag in his hand.

Wearing a peach long sleeved shirt, black tie, black pants and black leather shoes, a bespectacled Taylor with receding hair line, paused and shook hands with Assistant Chief Officer, William Harvey and Public Relations Officer at the Prison, Ryan Phillips.

They engaged in a lively discussion for about five minutes before the small-framed former death row inmate, walked through the main security gate and left behind, the penal institution he had called home for the past 28 years.

Before his “final” departure, Taylor also waved goodbye to other inmates who were working on the farm and they shouted back to him by name. As the distance between him and the prison gates became greater, the ex-convict was asked by reporters to share his thoughts on his freedom. Showing little emotion while approaching the visitors’ car park to meet his waiting relatives, Taylor would only tell reporters “no comment.”

He conveyed the impression that he was simply anxious to get as far away from Dodds as possible.

“Where are they,” Taylor whispered, as his eyes panned the car park in search of his relatives. A car, driven by a female with another female in the front passenger seat, slowly drove up, stopped and they shouted “Michael.” He acknowledged the occupants, opened the rear door and he got in.

As the former murder convict boarded the vehicle, registered to a Chapman Lane, City resident, he was asked “how are you?” “I’m okay,” he replied. That vehicle, followed by a second, drove off in the distance.

Minutes afterwards, the Prison’s PRO, Ryan Phillips told this newspaper what the earlier conversation with Taylor was about. Phillips said he and his colleague Harvey gave Taylor some guidance and advice and told him a lot of changes had occurred over the past 28 years while he was behind bars. He said that Taylor told them he had been asking a lot of questions about his release and had been preparing for it.

Asked what kind of prisoner the convicted killer was, Phillips responded, “He was a role model. A lot of the inmates would go to him and get guidance.”

Taylor was jointly convicted in 1984 with Patrick Greaves of Mansion Road, Bank Hall, a stone’s throw from the scene of the crime.

In 1986 the two appealed their death sentences, but had those appeals rejected. However, in 1989 both sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

Back in 1984 the battered and bloodied body of Lyder who lived alone, was discovered after she failed to open her shop. Investigations later revealed that she had been beaten about the head with a blunt object. Greaves remains in prison, but Barbados TODAY has been reliably informed that he, too, has been interviewed to determine a decision on his release. (EJ)

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