A man charged with molesting his stepdaughter has, for the second time, been convicted of that crime by a Flagler County jury.
The trial that started Sept. 16 and ended Sept. 18 with James Albert Taylor's conviction was the third time the case had gone before a Flagler County jury.
A jury of four women and two men deliberated for about 35 minutes on Sept. 18 before finding James Albert Taylor, 41, guilty of the crime of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 12, according to State Attorney's Office Public Information Officer John Scott.
The trial that started with jury selection Sept. 16 and ended Sept. 18 was the third time the case had gone before a Flagler County jury: Taylor was convicted of the same crime in 2017, but appealed on the basis that Circuit Judge Dennis Craig had improperly allowed the defense to introduce an allegation of another crime — specifically, that Taylor had also raped the victim's sister.
An appeals court found in Taylor's favor, necessitating a new trial.
The 2017 trial that led to a conviction had itself followed a previous attempt to try the case, which ended in a mistrial when a young witness mentioned on the stand that Taylor had prior criminal convictions — a fact the jury was not allowed to hear, lest it prejudice the case.
The victim, who was 11 when the crime took place and is now 17, took the witness stand and told the jury that Taylor had repeatedly entered her bedroom at night and rubbed her breasts over her clothes while she was in bed. The defense had argued that concocted the allegations because she didn't like her stepfather and wanted him out of the house.
Taylor will be sentenced by Circuit Judge Terence Perkins during a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 1, but the judge has little discretion in this case: Under Florida law, as a prison releasee reoffender — someone convicted of having committed a serious crime within three years of their release from prison — Taylor faces mandatory life in prison.
Taylor was already a registered sex offender with previous convictions for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child, rape of a child, burglary, failure to register as a sex offender and stalking when deputies arrested him and charged him in 2015 with the lewd and lascivious molestation charge for which he was convicted on Sept. 18.