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Family, Friends Split on Penalty for Commentator’s Killer

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Radio commentator Michael Taylor spent the last year of his life fighting to spare a fellow radio personality from the death penalty.

But now that the fate of Taylor’s own killer is being decided in a courtroom penalty phase, his friends and family disagree on how the progressive voice on KPFK-FM would have viewed the case.

Some of Taylor’s friends believe he would have wanted to spare his killer.

“Michael wouldn’t want someone executed in his name,” said Karen Pomer, a death penalty opponent and friend of Taylor.

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The dead man’s brother says he would have wanted his death punished with death.

“Michael was against the death penalty for those he believed were wrongly accused,” said Reginald Taylor.

“Let’s not forget he was bound and gagged and shot five, six times in the head, face and mouth and tortured with Liquid-Plumr.”

It is unclear whether either set of views will influence the jury hearing death penalty testimony against Andrew Lancaster, 26, of Compton. Lancaster was convicted last week of the 1995 execution-type murder of Taylor in South Los Angeles in a dispute over radio equipment. Two accomplices in the slaying pleaded guilty and testified against Lancaster.

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During the penalty phase of the trial Friday, it was a defense psychologist who took center stage--arguing that the killer should be spared because of his lifelong affliction with mental disorders.

“He lived in a home with substantial physical violence,” said psychologist Richard Romanoff. “All of his siblings had attention deficit disorder, and so did his father. There was so much wrong in his life from such an early age, he couldn’t fix it and no one could reach him.”

Romanoff urged that the death penalty not be imposed. “If he’s given life without parole, there’s a chance he can put the pieces of his life back together in a way,” Romanoff said.

The prosecution, meanwhile, argues that Lancaster is not only a brutal killer but a liar who has changed his story repeatedly in an attempt to save himself.

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Deputy Dist. Atty. Eleanor Hunter said that Lancaster’s problems were evident from an early age. He continued to act violently as a child even when he was staying with “loving and kind” grandparents, Hunter said.


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