• Jefferson Weaver

Taylor Guilty in Fiery Truck Death

Jill Hardie Taylor was found guilty of second degree murder Monday (today) in Columbus County Superior Court.

It took a Columbus County Jury several hours to find her guilty of second degree murder and traffic charges for her role in the fiery 2018 crash that killed Ricky Dale Crocker, a Charlotte commercial trucker who founded a drug rehabilitation ministry. She was sentenced to 10-13 years in prison.

Taylor, now 41, had four pending driving while impaired charges at the time of the crash, including one from the morning before where she fled Wilmington Police.

The State Highway Patrol said that Taylor was driving with a revoked license, and had been released from the Columbus County Detention Center on secured bond a short while before the crash. She stopped in the eastbound travel lane of U.S. 74 near the Hallsboro exit after midnight to inhale aerosol fumes.

Crocker was heading east with a load of dishes and housewares when he spotted the parked car in the right lane, and attempted to hit the shoulder to avoid Taylor. The eighteen-wheeler struck the car and careened into the woods, where it crashed and caught fire. Rescuers could not reach Crocker until the flames from the truck had been extinguished. Traffic was blocked in the eastbound lane for hours.

Taylor was held under $275,000 secured bond on a charge of vehicular manslaughter, but the bond was reduced to $100,000 on condition she stay in a drug rehabilitation facility. District Attorney Jon David objected to the bond reduction and her release, based on her past arrests for driving offenses and huffing.

Taylor was admitted to a rehabilitation center in Asheboro, but left the facility, where she fled a car crash she had caused. Asheboro police charged her with DWI, inhaling aerosol propellant and hit and run. A grand jury indicted her on a second degree murder charge on April 11, 2018, and David requested she be returned to Columbus for a bond hearing.

Days later, she was arrested at a motel in Asheboro where she was allegedly huffing and using illegal narcotics. She later escaped to Florida, where she was again arrested for huffing.

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