Timothy Taylor: Long Road Home To Freedom

Timothy Taylor with supporter Rev. Lawrence Bratton

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

The Federal Courtroom in downtown Charleston had standing room only on Tuesday as Timothy Taylor awaited his fate on federal charges. Taylor was involved in a McDonald’s robbery back in 2011 and sentenced in state court under the Youthful Offender’s Act to 5 years’ probation. However, Federal authorities intervened after receiving a tip from a jailhouse informant who implicated Taylor in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel’s kidnapping case. Taylor’s father, Timothy Sr., was also implicated and detained in the Drexel’s case but released after video evidence placed him at a fast food restaurant at the time he was allegedly aiding his son in Drexel’s kidnapping and murder. Drexel’s case remains unsolved.

It’s been a long road home for Timothy Taylor. Judge Norton sentenced Taylor to time served and placed him on probation for three years. While Drexel’s case is perplexing to say the least, there was never any evidence that Taylor was involved in her disappearance. Years had passed since Drexel’s kidnapping and Taylor’s family and supporters speculated that the Feds were eager to solve the Drexel’s case and by detaining Taylor, he would offer up information of what happened to Drexel. The case made national news and continues to mystify investigators and the Drexel family. The Drexel family deserves closure on what happened to their daughter but not at the expense of locking up an innocent man.

Timothy’s trouble began when he was sixteen years old. He is now 28 years old and two children who needs their father’s involvement in their lives. This is how the generational shift begins.  While fathers serve time in jail, children’s lives spiral downhill. Prisons are full of innocent people, particularly black men.  If the Drexel case is ever solved, and I am hoping it will, it will be late too late for the Feds to say “oops, wrong man.” The damage would been done; and, no amount of damage control would make Taylor whole again.  While on the subject of “whole” again, Taylor and his family lives are forever changed and damaged by the cloud of suspicion hanging over his head.

It’s something about a “good” name once damaged, it is difficult, if not impossible to regain.  Folks will pretend they understand while talking behind your back.  Your credit score may have been good before the incident, now you have a gap in employment. In small towns, like Taylor’s, don’t think creditors are oblivious to what’s going on. The “good” name that once granted you privileges is forever tarnished.  Folks remember very little of the good that you do but all of the bad they think you did.

After leaving the courtroom on yesterday and talking with Taylor’s mother, Joan, life has not been a bed of roses for them.  She is still unable to find work because as soon as a prospective employer links her name to her son’s possible involvement in the Drexel’s case, she is no longer considered for the position. The family has exhausted what little funds they may have had over the years trying to keep a roof over their head while fighting to free their son.

Rev. Lawrence Bratton, Pastor of Bible Way Baptist, spearheaded the “Free Timothy Taylor” movement had very little to say after leaving the courtroom. He did say “he disagreed with probation because Timothy did his time.”

The Taylor family will continue to fight vigorously to clear the family’s name. Timothy lost his left arm when he was four years old. 

As family and friends gathered around Timothy to wish him well, his enduring smile said it all. It is difficult to define freedom if you have never been confined.  Timothy’s mother was overwhelmed with emotions as she thanked his supporters.

Taylor’s long road to freedom is about to be over. He was all smiles as he walked out the courthouse. And, for his family that long awaited this day, for now, that is enough! Their son is home.

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