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Raheem Taylor Executed For 2004 Murder Of Girlfriend And Her Three Kids Despite Claims Of Innocence

Raheem Taylor was put to death Tuesday despite his claims that he was in California when his girlfriend Angela Rowe and her three children were killed in Missouri in 2004. 

By Christina Coulter
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

Raheem Taylor was put to death in a Missouri state prison in Bonne Terre on Tuesday for the 2004 murders of his girlfriend and her three children, despite his claims that he was in another state when the killings took place.

It was the nation’s fifth execution this year following a previous execution in Missouri, two in Texas and one in Oklahoma — all by lethal injection.

Taylor, 58, was the second person to be executed in Missouri in 2023. Amber McLaughlin was executed on Jan. 3 for fatally stabbing a woman in St. Louis County.

RELATED: California Teen's Boyfriend Allegedly Stabbed Her To Death, Then Ran Over Her Body

Missouri Department of Corrections Communications Direction Karen Pojmann told Oxygen.com that Taylor ordered a seafood platter, a cheeseburger, a slice of cheesecake, French fries and vanilla ice cream for his final meal.

Seventeen witnesses — nine on behalf of the victim, four reporters and four for the state — watched as Taylor was injected with 5 grams of pentobarbital, Pojmann said.

A police handout of Raheem Taylor

He kicked his feet as the injection was administered, then took five or six breaths before all movement stopped, according to the Associated Press. He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. 

In his final statement, Taylor said Muslims don’t die but “live eternally in the hearts of our family and friends.”

“Death is not your enemy, it is your destiny. Look forward to meeting it. Peace!” he wrote in the statement.

Taylor, who previously went by the first name Leonard, has maintained since his arrest that he was in California when Angela Rowe, her 10-year-old daughter Alexus Conley, six-year-old daughter AcQreya Conley and five-year-old son Tyrese Conley were shot dead at their home in the St. Louis suburb of Jennings.

Prosecutors believe that Taylor shot Rowe in the midst of a violent argument, then killed the children to eliminate witnesses.

Taylor, who lived with Rowe and her three children, boarded a flight to California on Nov. 26, 2004. Police discovered the slain family on Dec. 3 after worried relatives requested a welfare check, saying they hadn’t heard from Rowe.

An initial autopsy by a medical examiner said that the killings likely happened within a few days of the discovery of the bodies, while Taylor was away in California, according to the New York Post. But in court, medical examiner Phillip Burch said family could have been shot two or three weeks before their bodies were found due to the cool temperatures in the apartment.

Kent Gibson, Taylor's attorney, said that several people saw Angela alive in the days following Taylor's departure from Missouri. Taylor's daughter in California, Deja Taylor, testified that she and her father called Angela and one of her children during his visit to her state.

Meanwhile, DNA from Rowe’s blood was found on Taylor’s glasses when he was arrested. A relative taking him to the airport testified that they saw Taylor toss a gun into a sewer, and the convict’s brother told police that Taylor confessed to the crime.

The NAACP, multiple civil rights and religious groups and the Midwest Innocence Project advocated for Taylor’s innocence before his death. However, Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson denied his clemency request Monday.

“Despite his self-serving claim of innocence, the facts of his guilt in this gruesome quadruple homicide remain,” Parson said in a statement. “The State of Missouri will carry out Taylor’s sentences according to the Court’s order and deliver justice for the four innocent lives he stole.”

Parson’s decision came despite a letter requesting a stay of execution from national NAACP president Derrick Johnson, who wrote that “evidence presented at trial does not support Mr. Taylor’s conviction,” according to the Associated Press. Johnson, along with three dozen civil rights groups, also wrote St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, asking that he reconsider his decision not to ask a judge for a new hearing.

The letter said Bell has a “clear opportunity here to free an innocent Black man whose case was riddled with prosecutorial misconduct, police coercion and brutality, and ineffective assistance of counsel.”

But Bell wrote in a statement on Monday that, although his office would not have sought the death penalty, "we believe the jury got the verdict right."

Bell's predecessor, Bob McCulloch, whose office prosecuted Taylor's case, told the AP that the convict's claims were "nonsense" and that the evidence against him is overwhelming.

The former elected prosecutor told the AP that evidence suggests Rowe and her children were killed while Taylor was still in-state, on the night of Nov. 22 or Nov. 23. Cell phone records showed that the slain mother generally made about 70 outgoing calls or texts per day, he told the news service, but that none were placed beginning on Nov. 23.

Last-minute appeals to the Supreme Court by Taylor’s lawyers were also denied.

Gerauan Rowe, the sister of Rowe and aunt of the younger victims, told the AP that she still struggles with the loss of her family members.

“I’m at a point in my life right now — I’m OK but I’m not,” she said. “But I know justice was served. It’s kind of hard trying to move forward, but I think I can do it.”

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