John Taylor was sentenced to death by the State of Florida for a robbery murder. According to court documents John Taylor would go into a convenience store and in the process of robbing it would stab the clerk, Shannon Holzer, to death. John Taylor would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
John Taylor 2021 Information
|TAYLOR, JOHN C II
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John Calvin Taylor, II (Taylor), was tried and convicted for the robbery and murder of Shannon Holzer (Holzer). The evidence presented at trial showed Jeff Holzer, the victim’s husband, arrived home early on the morning of December 30, 1997, and became concerned because his wife was not at home. After calling the police and local hospitals to see if any accidents had been reported, he called the police to report his wife missing. Later that evening, Holzer’s vehicle was discovered stuck in the mud on a fire break road in a wooded area. Holzer’s body was discovered a short time later off the road in the woods. She had been stabbed nine times in the abdomen and upper chest. Holzer’s clothing, including her pants and underwear, had been partially removed.
At trial, a forensic pathologist, Dr. Bonifacio Floro, testified that of Holzer’s nine stab wounds, six had penetrated her heart and three had penetrated her left lung. Dr. Floro indicated each of the wounds was potentially fatal. According to Dr. Floro, one wound, which he believed to be the initial wound, was consistent with having been made by someone sitting in the passenger’s seat while Holzer was seated in the driver’s seat and the rest of the wounds were consistent with the victim lying on her back. Dr. Floro also indicated that there were wounds and other signs that were consistent with Holzer struggling to escape or protect herself. Additionally, Dr. Floro discovered two small bruises inside the victim’s vagina and he opined that they were made no more than twelve hours before Holzer’s death.
Police learned that Holzer had last been seen the previous day at Buddy Boy’s, a small convenience store located in St. Johns County, Florida, where she was employed. Early in the afternoon of December 29, 1997, Holzer left work to deposit money for Buddy Boy’s and also to deposit money for a small meat shop that was located behind Buddy Boy’s. Cindy Schmermund was Holzer’s friend and coworker. Both Schmermund and Holzer knew Taylor from having worked at Buddy Boy’s. Schmermund remembered Holzer leaving around 1 p.m. to make the deposit, which had to be to the bank by 2 p.m. The deposit included cash and checks, with the cash portion of the deposit totaling more than $6000. Schmermund saw Holzer pull up to Buddy Boy’s gas pumps with Taylor in the car. After pumping the gas, Holzer entered the store, and Schmermund questioned her as to why Taylor was in her car. Schmermund testified that Holzer said she was giving Taylor a ride to Green Cove Springs to pick up a rental car and that “[Taylor] was harmless. [I’ll] be fine. Don’t worry about it. I’ll be back in a minute.” Several other individuals, Joe Dunn, Arthur Mishoe, and Nolan Metcalf, also saw Taylor accompanying Holzer as she was leaving to make the deposit and each testified that they each heard Holzer making various statements about taking Taylor to Green Cove Springs, including statements that she did not want anyone to tell her husband that she was giving Taylor a ride.
On the day Holzer’s body was discovered, Taylor was arrested for an unrelated burglary involving the theft of a briefcase from a vehicle. At the time of his arrest, Taylor was wearing a pair of boxer shorts that were later discovered to have a blood stain that contained genetic material that was consistent with [ ] Holzer’s DNA profile.
At trial, the State introduced the testimony of James Bullard and Michael McJunkin, who lived with Taylor in the mobile home near Buddy Boy’s. Both Bullard and McJunkin testified that Taylor made comments about wanting to have sex with Holzer. Bullard and McJunkin also testified that Taylor was having financial problems and had been having difficulty paying his bills. Additionally, Taylor had recently been involved in an accident with his truck. While he was waiting on the insurance payments, he was driving a rented white Geo Metro.
The State also introduced evidence showing Taylor had substantial sums of money on the day of Holzer’s disappearance. Most notably, Taylor was photographed depositing $1700 into his bank account at 3:48 p.m., only a few hours after Holzer had deposited money for the meat shop. Before making the deposit, Taylor had a negative balance and had recently bounced several checks. That same afternoon, Taylor went to a restaurant and lounge to give the owner some money to cover some bad checks Taylor had written. Taylor also stopped by Garber Ford Mercury, a car dealership in Green Cove Springs, where he expressed interest in purchasing a truck. Additionally, on the evening of December 29, 1997, Taylor and McJunkin went to a local bar. A bartender testified that Taylor bought a number of drinks for other bar patrons and, by the end of the evening, he had incurred a bill of approximately $150 to $200. In addition to paying for the drinks, Taylor gave the bartender two $100 bills as a tip.
By early morning on December 30, 1997, the police had interviewed the witnesses who had seen Taylor with Holzer. The police also learned Holzer had not deposited the money into Buddy Boy’s account. Although they did not discover her car and body until later in the evening, police also knew that Holzer had not been to feed or tend to her horse. The police dispatcher put out information with Taylor’s address and a description of his rental car.
Deputy Chris Strickland was off duty and was driving with a friend in the vicinity of Vineyard Trailer Park when he learned from the dispatch about Holzer’s disappearance. Strickland proceeded to Taylor’s mobile home and discovered that Taylor’s rental car was parked outside. Strickland called in for a marked unit, and shortly thereafter, Deputy Bob Lindsey arrived. Deputies Strickland and Lindsey knocked on the door of the mobile home and McJunkin answered the door and invited the officers inside. Taylor had been taking a shower and walked into the living room of the mobile home wearing only a towel. Deputy Strickland suggested Taylor get dressed, and watched Taylor get dressed to make sure that Taylor did not arm himself. The deputies informed Taylor that Holzer was missing and that he had been the last person seen with her. They also told him that Detective Ronnie Lester wanted to speak with him at the station.
Shortly after Strickland and Lindsey entered the trailer, Deputies John Noble and Shawn Lee arrived and entered the open door of the trailer. When the other deputies arrived, Deputy Strickland and his friend left. Deputy Lindsey was given Taylor’s driver’s license and he took it to his patrol car to see if Taylor had any outstanding warrants. From his patrol car, Lindsey had an unobstructed view of Taylor sitting in a chair inside the mobile home. He observed Taylor reach into his pocket, remove something, and shove it under the cushion of the chair where he was sitting. Alarmed that Taylor had placed a weapon under the cushion, Lindsey went quickly into the mobile home and asked Taylor to get up and move toward the kitchen. When asked what he had concealed, Taylor denied placing anything under the cushion. Upon obtaining Taylor’s permission, the deputies looked under the cushion and discovered a roll of cash, totaling around $1600. The police handcuffed Taylor, read him his rights, and took him outside to sit in the back seat of a patrol vehicle with the door open, at which point they removed the handcuffs. At Noble’s request, Taylor signed two consent forms to search the mobile home and his rental car. Deputy Noble testified that Taylor told him there was more money under the passenger’s seat of his car. Noble looked under the seat and observed a purple bag full of money.
McJunkin was a key witness for the State at trial. McJunkin testified that Taylor had occasionally talked about robbing Holzer. According to McJunkin, Taylor had chosen Holzer as his target because Buddy Boy’s was close to the Vineyard Trailer Park and he knew when Holzer left to make deposits at the bank. On the morning of December 29, 1997, McJunkin and Taylor were staying at the house of Taylor’s estranged wife, Mary Ann Taylor. McJunkin said that after Mrs. Taylor left for work, Taylor decided to rob Holzer. McJunkin drove Taylor to Buddy Boy’s and dropped him off. Taylor instructed McJunkin to return to Mrs. Taylor’s house and wait for him to call. Later, Taylor called from a gas station in Green Cove Springs and told McJunkin to come pick him up. After picking Taylor up, McJunkin drove to a parking lot, where Taylor proceeded to count and separate large amounts of money that he had concealed in his waistband. Taylor put the money into a purple velvet bag that had contained a bottle of “Crown Royal” liquor. According to McJunkin, Taylor said that “if [Holzer] didn’t show up within a couple days everything should be fine.”
McJunkin testified that he and Taylor returned to the mobile home and Taylor changed his clothes and placed the clothes and shoes he had been wearing into a trash bag. According to McJunkin, Taylor threw this trash bag into a dumpster behind the restaurant where he had paid for his bad checks. McJunkin testified that at some point as they drove from location to location, they crossed the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine and as they were driving across, Taylor directed McJunkin to throw a knife off the bridge.
At trial, Taylor’s defense was that McJunkin had committed the robbery and murder. Taylor took the stand in his own defense. Taylor did not deny requesting a ride or leaving Buddy Boy’s with Holzer in her car. Taylor alleged that he walked to Buddy Boy’s after McJunkin had taken his rental car to the mobile home, leaving Taylor stranded at his wife’s house. Taylor claimed that he asked Holzer to take him to his mobile home to pick up his rental car. According to Taylor’s version of events, Holzer dropped him off at the mobile home and McJunkin was there playing video games. Taylor claimed Holzer gave McJunkin a ride to Green Cove Springs to visit a friend and some time later, McJunkin called him from a gas station near the scene of the crime to pick him up. During his testimony, Taylor denied telling Deputy Noble about additional money under the passenger’s seat of the rental car. Taylor also explained that the money he deposited in his bank account and the money that he hid under the seat cushion in the trailer was money he had stolen from the briefcase of a man named Chip Yelton.
The jury found Taylor guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon.