'I fought so long to get him home': Mother warned son to 'stay away' from Jacksonville's Eastside

·7 min read

"I warned him about going to the Eastside of Jacksonville and spending time with those crooks and people and so forth and whatever out there!"

Those were the words that Agnes Anderson says she had been saying after her son Edward Clayton Taylor was paroled three years ago in the 1986 rape of a 4-year-old girl and then officially had the case vacated last month as a wrongful conviction.

After more than three decades in prison for a crime he always said he didn't commit, the conviction was lifted from her 57-year-old son's head, she said. Then the 77-year-old mother said Taylor called this weekend from the Duval County jail to say he had been arrested for attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Reached Tuesday at her Arlington home where Taylor also lived, Anderson said she didn't know much about Friday night's shooting at Odessa Street and A. Philip Randolph Boulevard.

Edward Taylor and his mother, Agnes Anderson, hug as they prepare to leave the courtroom after the last step in clearing Taylor's criminal record on May 20.
Edward Taylor and his mother, Agnes Anderson, hug as they prepare to leave the courtroom after the last step in clearing Taylor's criminal record on May 20.

Vindicated in 1986 child rape in Jacksonville: Now Edward Taylor is charged with attempted murder

Then she was told some of the arrest report details.

"Oh my God," she said. "I am so numb, I am just numb. I don't know what to say. I fought so long to get him home, something he did not do and he came out and spent this time with obviously the wrong people. ... I think he was going out there playing pool or something. That's what he was always saying, he was going to play some pool. But he wouldn't listen to us, his son, his brother, me; we are the people who love and care about him and the next thing I hear is this."

What led to this arrest

Taylor remains behind bars on $1.1 million bail on the charges, jail records state.

Taylor's arrest report details what a Sheriff's Office Real-Time Crime Camera showed just before 9:45 p.m. but does not indicate a motive.

The video shows a man in a black tank top, jeans and white shoes walking up to the 61-year-old victim and shooting him in the chest, according to the report. He then chases a second person who was with the victim.

A  large crowd gathers as the gunman walks away in the video. Then a bronze-colored car is seen heading down Odessa as several men in the crowd begin shooting at it, the report said.

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Shortly after the shooting, officers spotted a man removing items from the truk of a bronze Hyundai Elantra about four blocks away on Spearing Street, the report said. Multiple bullet holes punctured the glass and metal in back. The driver, wearing black tank top, jeans and white shoes, matched the man seen on the crime camera.

Identified as Taylor, he confirmed he was at the scene and heard a gunshot so fled in the car, he told officers in the report. More gunfire followed, and he realized he had a flat tire. So he was preparing to change his tire when officers arrived.

The report listed the men's relationship as unknown, and it was unclear what led up to the shooting. The 61-year-old was hospitalized with serious injuries. The Times-Union is not naming him because he is not charged in the case. Court records do show he has 16 mostly minor arrests in Jacksonville.

Told the name of the man shot in the chest, Anderson said she did not recognize it, adding that she has "no reason to go to that side of town" after living there in the 1970s when her sons were younger.

Tears stream down his cheek as Edward Taylor looks at his mother in the courtroom gallery after he had is criminal record cleared on false rape charges Friday morning in the Duval County Courthouse.
Tears stream down his cheek as Edward Taylor looks at his mother in the courtroom gallery after he had is criminal record cleared on false rape charges Friday morning in the Duval County Courthouse.

"I was joyful because I fought for so long, went back and forth to see him and fought all those years that he was in prison for something that he did not do," she said, emotion in her voice. "Then he came out and gets exonerated, then this! It is unbelievable. I am numb. I don't even know how I feel."

The wounded man is listed as living only blocks from where he was shot. Florida Department of Corrections records show he was in prison from 2010 to 2012 on a weapons conviction, although it is unknown if he and Taylor were in the same facility and knew each other then.

The original crime, time served and case absolved

The victim of the 1986 sexual assault, then 4, originally told her mother she was sore, then tested positive for venereal disease, according to court documents. She told investigators it was her neighbor friend's "daddy" who did it but never used Taylor's name, according to the latest motion for dismissal of the conviction.

Taylor was the friend's father, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. But police failed to confirm who actually lived there and it was later learned that three men did, the motion said.

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A detective showed the girl a spread of photos that included images of Taylor but not another relative who would several years later be considered the actual suspect. The girl identified Taylor as the "daddy," and he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Then The Innocence Project, a criminal justice reform group, began investigating Taylor's case in 2016 as the now-grown victim recanted her testimony at a 2018 parole hearing that led to his release a year later. She said she misidentified Taylor but was positive that her attacker was someone in his family.

That person had been arrested for molesting four other girls younger than 12 in Brunswick, Ga., and confirmed that he had a venereal disease in 1986, the motion said.

At the May 20 court hearing, the State Attorney's Office did not oppose the motion to overturn Taylor’s conviction. Circuit Judge London Kite formally vacated the sentence.

After that decision, Taylor said his mother helped him keep the faith.

"When everybody else turned their back on me in those first few years, she was always there, giving me encouragement and guidance when I needed it," he said, hugging her. "My mom, she's the most precious thing in life."

He also handled a silver ring he had worn on a chain around his neck since his 2019 release from prison, saying he planned to get married to his girlfriend since his name had been cleared.

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But now his mother said she doesn't know what happened to her.

"Something happened. I don't know what it was because he wasn't here most of the time," she said. "He was here before, working then coming home in the afternoon like normal. Then all of a sudden he wasn't coming, or sometimes he would come and it would be early in the morning, or late at night. Sometimes he came in and I didn't even hear him come in."

Anderson said she remembers that when they moved out of the Eastside, she told her then-young sons to "stop hanging out on the Avenue," meaning Florida Avenue, the original name for what is now A. Philip Randolph Boulevard. But they were "still kind of going back and forth over there," Anderson said, now wondering "what was so important that he had to hang out there."

"There is nothing for you on the Eastside of Jacksonville except death and jail," she said. "Stay away from there! The others listened, but he didn't."

dscanlan@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4549

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This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Edward Taylor: Jacksonville mother numb after exonerated son arrested