Victim's relatives: Man in Wendy's shootings 'got what he deserved'

NEW YORK (AP) -- A jury ruled that the man behind a robbery-massacre in which five Wendy's employees were herded into a freezer and shot execution-style should die by lethal injection.

Rejecting defense pleas to spare John Taylor's life, the panel took just six hours Tuesday to decide his fate.

"This day has finally come, and he got the justice he deserved," said Joan Truman-Smith, whose daughter Anita was killed.

During two days of testimony, defense lawyers had sought to create sympathy among the jurors by portraying the 38-year-old Taylor as a man with a troubled childhood who became a loving father of four children. A day before he was sentenced, Taylor also publicly apologized, reciting the names of his victims before expressing his remorse.

"I've shamed my family and shamed my children," he said. "I know you cannot forgive me. I don't expect you to. I'm sorry."

But Taylor stood stone-faced as the jury's decision was read while the victims' family wept quietly in the courtroom. He was sentenced to die by injection for killing two of the employees, along with a third count for committing multiple murders in a single criminal act.

The jury could not reach a unanimous decision on the counts that charged Taylor plotted the attack and commanded his mentally retarded accomplice to kill the rest.

Taylor is set to be formally sentenced on Jan. 8. His sentence was automatically appealed.

"The outrage of the community was reflected in this verdict," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

But defense attorney Jack Youngblood said nothing good came out of the case.

"This case has been very sad from the beginning," Youngblood said. "And I think it got even sadder today."

According to prosecutors, Taylor and Craig Godineaux were eating in the Queens restaurant just before closing when Taylor, a former employee, approached the manager, Jean Auguste, and the two went to the basement.

Auguste then called the rest of the employees downstairs over the intercom and Godineaux followed.

Graphic trial testimony told how Taylor and Godineaux bound-and-gagged the victims, ordered them into the freezer, placed plastic bags over their heads and methodically shot them one by one.

Godineaux, 32, pleaded guilty last year to shooting five of the victims, three fatally. He was ineligible for the death penalty because he is mentally retarded, and instead received five life sentences.

Auguste, Anita Smith, Ramon Nozario, Jeremy Ryan Mele and Ali Ibadat were killed. Jacquoine Johnson, 20, and Patrick Castro, 24, were shot but survived.

Taylor joins five other men on death row in New York. The state last executed an inmate in 1963 and reinstated the death penalty in 1995.

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