Defense in murder case accuses police of destroying evidence

Composite image shows slain Medford mother Sarah Goode, 21, and the man accused of killing her, Dante Taylor.

Composite image shows slain Medford mother Sarah Goode, 21, and the man accused of killing her, Dante Taylor. (4/18/16)

RIVERHEAD - An attorney for the Mastic man charged with raping and murdering a young Medford mother is accusing Suffolk police of destroying evidence that he says could have cleared his client.

Dante Taylor is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Sarah Goode. As News 12 has reported, Goode's remains were found in a wooded area in Medford back in 2014. She was found with 42 stab wounds, and prosecutors have alleged that Taylor raped her and killed her.

During a pretrial hearing on Monday, Police Officer Jessica Story, who worked for Suffolk Parks Police at the time, testified that a member of a search party looking for Goode had showed her women's leggings she'd found at Smith Point County Park days after Goode disappeared. The witness said Goode was last seen wearing similar leggings. Officer Story said she took the leggings and invoiced them as evidence.

Taylor's attorney says he wasn't told about any of the clothing until just recently, and claims prosecutors withheld it.

Officer Story said she also discovered men’s boxers, socks and a piece of a sweatshirt not far from the leggings. Story claimed she told Suffolk detectives about the findings, who told her they “did not believe they were important to the case” and left them there. She testified that the evidence was later destroyed.

The defense says it will now never know if the articles of clothing were important or not, and if they could have possibly cleared Taylor.

"I don't care what the detectives say about the clothes because I can't believe anything they have to say anyway, because they have been less than forthright during this investigation; withholding evidence,” said defense attorney John Lewis Jr.

The trial was supposed to begin last November, but has been plagued by problems. State Supreme Court Justice John Collins has sanctioned prosecutors for violating the Brady rule five times. The rule requires prosecutors to turn over all evidence that could be favorable to the defense.

If convicted in the case, Taylor faces life in prison without parole.

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