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Lexington County offender sentenced to life plus 30 years for murder and rape

Gaston, SC - Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard announced Friday, March 16 that forty-four (44) year old Peter Lynn Coffey of Gaston was convicted and of the 2015 murder and rape of Joanne White Taylor, sixty (60) of Lexington County. The jury deliberated for an hour and a half before returning the guilty verdict, convicting Coffey of murder and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. The Honorable Knox R. McMahon sentenced Coffey to Life plus thirty (30) years.

On Sunday, August 9, 2015, a family friend went to check on Ms. Taylor at the request of Ms. Taylor’s mother who had not heard from Joanne in two days. After breaking a window and seeing Ms. Taylor’s body, the friend called 911. Law enforcement forced entry into the residence and found Ms. Taylor beaten to death. An autopsy revealed that Ms. Taylor had been beaten to death sustaining approximately twenty-one blows to the head likely with a small sledge hammer covered in blood found next to her body. Evidence showed that the rape occurred at or near the time of death.

In opening statements, Assistant Solicitor Bradley Pogue, told the jury that “Blood doesn’t lie.” Testimony introduced during the trial, established that Ms. Taylor’s blood was found on a pair of shorts that was collected from Coffey’s washing machine and that Coffey’s blood was found on the shower curtain in Taylor’s house.

Other testimony revealed that Coffey used Taylor’s cell phone on Saturday, August 8, 2015 at 1:59 am and again at 8:48 am. Taylor’s phone was found by her body and expert testimony revealed that there were no additional outgoing calls from the phone after that time.

During closing arguments, Deputy Solicitor Shawn Graham argued that Ms. Taylor opened her door and let Coffey into her house thinking that she was opening the door to a friend, but in fact, she was opened the door to her death. Graham stated that Ms. Taylor lost consciousness after the first blow and that Coffey continued to hit her twenty (20) more times in a fit of rage.

During sentencing, Coffey maintained his innocence. Coffey was a registered sex offender. Solicitor Hubbard praised his staff and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department for their hard work, and stated that “a violent sexual predator has been removed from our streets.”

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