Manatee man steadfast in claim he did not kill his wife

MANATEE -- Robert Taylor, dressed in an orange jail suit with handcuffs around his wrists, told detectives again and again that he did not kill his wife.

"I know I didn't do it and I believe in the system," he told them in Morgan County, Mo., where he was arrested in February 2011 and charged with second-degree murder.

During the third day of his trial in Manatee County, prosecutors played several videotaped interviews in which detectives questioned Taylor. He is accused of killing Pamela Taylor, his 63-year-old wife.

On Sept. 11, 2008, Taylor called 911 after he found Pamela face down in their pool at their Sarasota home in the 7300 block of Caladesia Drive.

He initially told detectives he removed his wife from the deep end of the pool and placed her at the steps.

But during the investigation, detectives discovered details of possible domestic abuse and life insurance policies.

If found guilty, Taylor could face life in prison.

In the interviews played Thursday, Taylor stroked his beard as he repeatedly denied killing his wife.

In the videos, homicide detectives Ricardo Alvarado and John Kenney, among others, showed crime scene and autopsy photographs and other documents to Taylor.

The retired deputy told detectives he and Pamela talked about divorce the day before she died. As in prior interviews, Taylor mentioned that his wife often tried to hit him, and even lunged at him with a butcher knife.

But Kenney questioned why Taylor never reported the abuse. "Why wouldn't you empower yourself that you're living with someone who is prone to domestic violence and killing you?"

Taylor replied he didn't "want to see anything bad happen to her."

Detectives also questioned Taylor about moving items around the crime scene -- his wife's body -- moments before authorities arrived. He moved a water hose out of the way, claiming he didn't want paramedics to trip and fall, and he scooped dog feces that surrounded his dead wife off the pool deck.

"So your wife's laying there dead and you're picking up [dog feces]," Kenney said.

Taylor argued that at the time of Pamela Taylor's death, he didn't know it would become suspicious.

Detectives also asked Taylor about not hearing the dogs barking inside their home when next-door neighbors had heard them. Taylor said he was wearing earphones, something he withheld in previous interviews.

They also asked Taylor about Pamela's dry bathing suit that hung in the bathroom, even though she had allegedly been in the swimming pool hours before her death, according to Taylor.

"You're getting deep into questions now that I can't answer because I don't know," he said.

He was also questioned about two life insurance policies, one of which he received $180,000 that he told detectives he spent, including on a new Kia Solace automobile.

Throughout the interviews, detectives left Taylor alone, who sipped water and glanced through crime scene photos scattered on a table. But as detectives continued to question Taylor, he fidgeted and rubbed his palms together.

The defense also had some witnesses on the stand.

Dr. Daniel Buffington, who works in clinical pharmacology medicine at the University of South Florida, testified that Pamela Taylor was taking five medications, including an anti-depressant.

When used alone or combined, the medications may cause bleeding, bruising and cognitive impairment, which would explain the bruises discovered on Pamela Taylor's body.

"Each of the medications alone or in combination have the capacity to have an effect," Buffington said, adding that "combining the prescription medications and alcohol would have an additional significant risk factor for her as well."

At the time of her death, Pamela Taylor's blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit of .08.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Art Brown argued that medication side-effects differ from person to person and that Buffington did not examine Taylor while she was alive.

The trial is scheduled to resume this morning.