RALEIGH – A juror caused a delay Monday in the capital murder trial for the man accused of killing N.C. Board of Education member Kathy Taft. Jason Williford is charged with raping and killing Taft at her boyfriend's Raleigh home in March 2010.
The state was supposed to continue calling witnesses to testify Monday, but will now have to wait until Tuesday. A juror didn't show up to court because she said she didn't have child care.
"She said she had no one to take care of her child and that her child was coming down with a cold and needed to stay with her," said Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner. "So here's my concern, we lose a day today and tomorrow, what's the story going to be tomorrow."
During the first three days of the trial, state prosecutors called more than a dozen witnesses to the stand. They said they plan to call some lead detectives to testify and could rest their case Monday.
On Friday, jurors heard revealing testimony as a state crime lab analyst testified DNA evidence links Williford to the scene of the crime.
State prosecutors called on doctors, police officers and investigators to lay out the evidence. DNA analyst Michelle Hannon says she compared a cigarette butt from Williford to DNA from the scene of the crime and Taft's rape kit.
"The predominate DNA profile matched Jason Williford," she said.
Last week, defense attorneys admitted the 32-year-old severely beat and raped Taft but they say he is mentally ill and did not commit premeditated, first-degree murder.
"He suffers from a variety of mental disorders. He is not right; he has never been right," said defense attorney Ernest "Buddy" Conner.
Officers arrested Williford in April 2010, a month after Taft's death. He lived less than a mile away from the home where she was attacked.
Williford has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.