Juror speaks out 42 years after serving on Louis Taylor's trial - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Juror speaks out 42 years after serving on Louis Taylor's trial

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Robert Nesselrode Robert Nesselrode
Louis Taylor Louis Taylor

Two days ago, Louis Taylor walked out of prison after serving more than 40 years for a deadly hotel fire in Tucson. Now, a man who helped convict Taylor is speaking out to FOX 10.

"We all did the best we could and went by the evidence that was there. I don't hold anything against Mr. Taylor. I wish him the best in life. I truly do."

That juror says he still thinks Louis Taylor is the person who started that hotel fire in 1970.. But he never believed Taylor planned on anyone getting hurt.

He also told us he still has questions he'd like to ask Louis Taylor now that he's a free man.

Robert Nesselrode was on the jury that convicted then-16-year-old Louis Taylor of starting the fire at the Pioneer Hotel in Tucson in 1970. 29 people were killed in the fire.

"We all felt that he was guilty -- but none of us felt that he actually did it to be a bad person. Things just got out of control and a lot of people died," said Nesselrode.

Taylor was released from prison Tuesday after pleading no contest to the charges and receiving credit for time served. He still maintains he was wrongly convicted.

"I wasn't going to give them another hour, another minute. I've been in prison almost 42 years for something I didn't do," Taylor said the day after he was released.

Nesselrode says after a six week trial, the jury reached a unanimous decision. But it wasn't easy.

"He got 28 counts of murder placed against him. 28 life sentences. For a young person, that's not an easy thing for a jury to convict somebody that they don't believe in their heart of hearts that he meant to hurt anybody."

As for the fact that the jury in Phoenix was all-white, Nesselrode said that didn't play any factor in finding Taylor guilty.

"Don't say that we did something wrong, or imply that maybe we did something wrong because we're of any particular nationality or race -- it's just wrong."

He says he has no problem with Taylor being released from prison, even though he still believes he started the fire.

"Absolutely not. I have no ill feelings towards Mr. Taylor at all. I wouldn't even mind talking to the guy. Because there were things when you're on a jury that you wanted to ask that you couldn't. Things that you had to draw your own conclusions -- or always wonder," says Nesselrode.

He added it wasn't easy being on that jury. They were sequestered, even from their families, and had to live in a downtown Phoenix hotel during the entire trial.

He said he would do it all again though, since it is part of everyone's civic duty.

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