Miss. Supreme Court upholds man’s conviction of setting girlfriend on fire

Published 6:36 pm Friday, March 23, 2007

The Mississippi Supreme Court has upheld a Vicksburg man’s conviction for setting his girlfriend on fire.

Bobby Taylor was convicted in 2004 in Warren County of aggravated assault. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with five years suspended.

According to the court record, Taylor and his girlfriend, Doris Jackson, separately testified that they were playing with rubbing alcohol and a lighter after she returned home from a night of drinking and playing slot machines at a local casino.

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They testified that Jackson was set on fire accidentally when Taylor flicked a lighter while walking through the hall.

Taylor said he grabbed a blanket to extinguish the fire and helped her into the shower.

Experts testified that the burn patterns showed Jackson was lying on her back and that someone had poured the alcohol on her. One expert also testified that the fire started in the bedroom, not in the hallway as both the defendant and the victim alleged.

On appeal, Taylor argued that the evidence did not support his conviction.

Taylor said even though both experts agreed that a liquid was poured on the victim, they could not testify how the liquid ignited. Taylor said the ignition could have been accidental.

Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., writing Thursday for the Supreme Court, said there was sufficient evidence to support Taylor’s conviction.

“The defendant’s version of the story is simply not supported by the physical evidence. While the defendant and the victim testified that she was standing up in the hallway and fully clothed, the evidence indicates that she was in fact lying down on her back, in the bedroom, and not wearing her shirt or jeans.

“Her extensive burns also support a finding that the act was intentional and further discredit the defendant’s testimony that he only put a ‘dab’ of alcohol on the victim,” Diaz said.