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Lancaster father charged with decapitating two of his children will have mental competency hearing

A Lancaster father accused of decapitating two of his children and showing their two siblings the dead bodies must have a mental competency hearing before the case can move forward, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has decided.

Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., 34, made a brief court appearance Monday before Judge Richard Naranjo suspended the proceedings until the Jan.6 hearing.

Taylor, a personal trainer, was removed from his Lancaster home on Dec. 4 while strapped and handcuffed to a stretcher.

Inside the home, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s homicide detectives had found his decapitated son and daughter, 12-year-old Maurice Jr. and 13-year-old Maliaka, in separate bedrooms.

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Taylor allegedly killed the children the Sunday after Thanksgiving, then kept the bodies inside the house for the next five days.

During this period, prosecutors allege that Taylor showed the dead bodies to his two younger sons, ages 8 and 9, who were kept in their rooms without food.

A personal trainer described as “mellow” and “reliable” was arrested Friday in connection with the deaths of his two adolescent children, who were found decapitated in the family home in Lancaster, authorities said.

The gruesome scene was not uncovered until calls from Taylor’s clients brought firefighters to the house on Century Circle.

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The clients, who were taking Zoom classes from Taylor during the coronavirus pandemic, became concerned after he did not send out a link for a scheduled session and could not be reached. They were worried about a gas leak at the home and asked authorities to check on the family.

A map of Lancaster with a pointer label that reads Two found decapitated in Lancaster home
Personal-training clients of Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr. called authorities to check on the family home in the 45000 block of Century Circle on Friday morning after they hadn’t heard from him.
(Los Angeles Times)

On Dec. 8, prosecutors charged Taylor with two counts each of murder and child abuse.

The children’s mother, who was in the house, is not a suspect but has been questioned by investigators and is still in contact with them, said Lt. Brandon Dean of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau.

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Dist. Atty. George Gascón announces sweeping policy changes for cash bail in L.A. County and bans seeking sentencing enhancements in nearly all cases.

Taylor is the first high-profile murder defendant charged under newly elected Dist. Atty. George Gascón, who has pledged not to seek the death penalty in any new cases.

Gascón has not filed special circumstances charges against Taylor that would include life without parole. But he noted this week that the sentence in the case would effectively be a life sentence.


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