- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A man who pleaded guilty to a fatal 1984 stabbing in Lincoln is hoping for a commutation after being on probation for 20 years.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2gaIrwL ) reports that the Nebraska Board of Pardons will consider Terry Taylor’s request for a commutation on Thursday. Taylor, now 53, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1985 in the death of his 18-year-old roommate, Ben DeBaets Jr.

Taylor initially told authorities DeBaets stabbed him during an argument over $400, but Taylor was arrested after DeBaets’ body was found repeatedly stabbed in the trunk of his car. Taylor later told a judge that anger over being rejected by DeBaets, his former lover, led to the killing.

“I’ve tried to put the past behind me and move on and live my life without being thought of as just a murderer,” Taylor said in a phone interview from Houston. “I think a person is much more than that.”

The Nebraska Parole Board voted to release him in 1996. Taylor moved to Texas, and he has continued to be on probation and under supervision. If Taylor’s sentence is commuted to a definite term, it could end his parole.

DeBaets’ sisters, Sherry Bott and Cathy Headlee, said they wouldn’t oppose ending Taylor’s parole if he has shown to be a productive member of society. The women said they hate what Taylor did to their brother, but they don’t hate Taylor.

“We’ve come to terms with our brother’s death. To go on living, you’ve got to get to that point,” Bott said.

While in prison, Taylor said he completed an associate’s degree in business administration and marketing, and earned a certificate in microcomputer technology. He said he worked in IT jobs after leaving prison, including as a self-employed consultant since 2001, has a clean record while on parole, undergoes counseling and has been in a stable relationship for 20 years.

In 1984, he said, he was emotionally disturbed, depressed and struggling.

“I don’t think I’m the same person,” he said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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