The 22-year-old Helena Valley man who killed his parents in March 2018 was sentenced Friday to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Kaleb David Taylor and two other men were charged with deliberate homicide after Charla Rae Taylor, 64, and David Muncie Taylor, 61, were brutally killed in their home last year. Kaleb pleaded guilty to two separate counts of deliberate homicide in July of last year. "I made a mistake and took two people's lives," Taylor said.
Kaleb, who was 21 at the time, was under the supervision of Helena Probation and Parole following a conviction for stealing thousands of dollars worth of items from a neighbor and his parents in 2015. He was supposed to be living with them at the time of the slayings.
Investigators found a jewelry box on the floor of the home with its contents scattered about. Kaleb said he disturbed the jewelry box and stole a computer and other items to make it appear that someone else had killed his parents and robbed their home.
He disposed of his blood-stained clothes, the weapon and the stolen property in various places throughout Lewis and Clark County, court documents say.
Kaleb took a detective to the locations where he had disposed of the evidence and investigators recovered some of it, including the weapon, according to court documents. He burned his blood-stained clothes after soaking them in lighter fluid.
Judge Mike Menahan said he was sending Kaleb to the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge for the rest of his life because he is “unfit for civilized society.”
“The danger you pose to others is so great I cannot say without absolute certainty, if you had an opportunity to commit another crime like this you would not do it,” Menahan said. “There is no reasonable prospect that you can be rehabilitated.”
Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher took the death penalty off the table early in the process. In court Friday, he said family members almost uniformly requested he ask the court to give Kaleb Taylor life without the possibility of parole.
“Prospects of a parole board being able to fashion a sentence to prevent him from harming someone in the future is nil,” Gallagher said.
“He has been in system his whole life,” Gallagher said. “He had loving, caring parents who did everything they could and were supportive of him even though he had harmed them and harmed their neighbors, did everything they could to try to salvage him.”
“They were rewarded with one of the most brutal nights of violence this community has ever seen,” Gallagher said.
Some new details about the killing of Charla and David Taylor came up in the hearing.
Kaleb's last probation and parole officer, Mike Hottman, described Kaleb's lengthy criminal history, but said Kaleb denied being on methamphetamine during the slaying of his parents. “He said he used it afterwards,” Hottman said.
Detective Bill Pandis of the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office testified about the grisly scene he encountered when he first arrived. David Taylor was missing fingertips on one hand because he had been hit with a metal rod while trying to protect himself. A picture, introduced as evidence in court, showed blood droplets arcing high across a wall behind the Taylors' bed.
Pandis said he believed Charla and David were attacked simultaneously while they were in bed. In text messages, Kaleb told his friends and his aunt Rita Cartwright that he hadn't seen his parents in a few days, Pandis said.
One text message sent to Kaleb's phone encouraged him to burn down his parents' house, Pandis said.
Cartwright, Charla Taylor’s sister, read an emotional statement describing how Kaleb texted with her and feigned ignorance about what had happened to his parents. This led her and two others to drive to the Taylors' home, where they found the couple's bodies.
“These are two people who unconditionally love and supported you,” Cartwright said.
David and Charla adopted Kaleb when he was a baby, and Cartwright said “They opened their home as an infant and offered you every opportunity."
Cartwright described the deaths of Charla and David as “senseless, vicious, brutal.”
“They gave everything they possessed trying to fulfill their job as parents,” Cartwright said. “They only gave too much.”