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Utah hit man seeks parole, but family of murdered woman says 25 years isn't enough

A man hired in 1996 to kill a North Salt Lake man's wife went before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole this week for the first time.

A man hired in 1996 to kill a North Salt Lake man's wife went before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole this week for the first time. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes

UTAH STATE PRISON — By his own account, George Anthony Taylor made plans 20 times to kill Jill Allen, but could not go through with it.

That was, until the 21st attempt on Aug. 28, 1996.

Taylor was hired by Paul Allen to kill his wife, 24-year-old Jill Allen, for $10,000. He testified in court during his trial that on that day, he again couldn't bring himself to shoot her and instead tried knocking her unconscious. But that only led to Allen being brutally bludgeoned to death.

"That's not the way it was planned. I didn't know what I was doing in there, to be honest with you," Taylor told the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole on Tuesday. "It's haunting."

Taylor was convicted of murder in 1998 and sentenced to a term of six years to life at the Utah State Prison. Paul Allen was convicted of capital murder in 2000 but was spared the death penalty and instead was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The middle man in the scenario, Joseph Sergious Wright — the man who put Taylor in contact with Allen — pleaded guilty in 1998 to attempted murder and criminal solicitation and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Taylor, now 52, went before the parole board for the first time on Tuesday.

While Taylor didn't directly ask to be paroled, he did express his desire to be released.

"I would not ask you to outright parole me, because I feel like that's cheating Jill's family, her friends. I have a desire to leave this place, absolutely," he said. "So I'm not telling you that I don't want to leave here. What I'm telling you is I'm not going to come in here and say, 'Please give me a parole date.' But in my heart, that's the truth.

"I hate this place. I hate what happened to bring me to this place. At the same time, I just don't feel it's right for me to ask that," Taylor continued.

Several times during the hearing, Taylor mentioned how he thinks of Allen every day and was apologetic to her family.

But Allen's mother, Andrea Myler, who attended the hearing along with a large number of Allen's family members and friends, told the board that Taylor deserves to spend more than 25 years in prison.

"I've spent long hours being haunted by the terror you caused her," she said Tuesday.

Although Paul Allen hired Taylor to kill his wife, Myler said it was still Taylor's decision to go through with it. She reminded the board that her daughter's death was so brutal that the family was forced to have a closed casket at her funeral.

"Why didn't you just run away, let her live?" she emotionally asked. "One day I cried so hard because I couldn't remember the sound of her laugh. ... It took me five years before I could even breathe."

Jill Allen would have been 50 this year. "Instead, I put flowers on her grave. I hate seeing her name on a headstone in the cemetery," her mother said.

Myler said she knows her religious beliefs tell her that she should forgive Taylor, but for years, "I told the Lord he could do whatever he wanted with me, I could never forgive you."

On Tuesday, however, Myler stated, "Today, I can honestly say I can forgive you."

However, she said that doesn't mean she wants Taylor released from prison anytime soon. Myler said her daughter's life is worth more than 25 years.

When asked to respond to the comments from Myler and from Allen's sister, who also said 25 years is not long enough, Taylor said he asks himself many of the same questions everyday.

"The answers that I've come up with are lacking," he said solemnly. "I didn't just take her away from you, I brutally took her away from you. ... I am so, so sorry."

In 1996, Taylor said he was drinking everyday, had run up a gambling debt and was going to be evicted from his residence. But rather than ask a local church for help, he called his friend, Wright, whom he knew was a "thief," to see if he could help him steal something to get money. Wright told Taylor that Paul Allen would pay him $10,000 to kill his wife.

But Taylor said for months he would make excuses to avoid going through with the crime. He said there were about 20 times when he was supposed to go through with the plan, but didn't, sometimes not even showing up to where he was supposed to be. It wasn't until four months later, after Taylor was given a key to the Allens' North Salt Lake condo, that he went there to wait for Jill Allen to come home.

"I have no idea what in the world I was thinking," he said Tuesday. "In the end, I was trying to convince myself I was evil enough."

Taylor said he even went as far as calling himself "the devil's son" prior to the murder.

"I believe that I was trying to convince myself that I was so evil that I could do something so deplorable and ruin so many lives," he said. "Why didn't I make just one more excuse? ... I know for a fact that Jill would still be here if I had just made one more excuse."

When asked why Allen's death was so brutal, Taylor said the assault was spontaneous.

"It wasn't intentional," he said. "I ask myself the same question, 'Why couldn't I just walk away?'

"I'm truly at a loss. And I hate the fact that … that's something (the family) had to experience, that Jill is not here and she was murdered the way she was murdered," he continued.

Today, Taylor said he has worked hard to become a better man. He attributes a large part of where he is today to becoming active at the prison chapel since 2016.

"It's taken a lot of work and I'm blessed to have a real personal relationship with God that is truly the foundation of my mental health," he said. "It's not easy to change. It's a process. ... But if you're willing, it happens."

The board noted that he has had eight disciplinary violations since being incarcerated, but none since 2016.

"I don't want to disappoint anyone anymore. Not only do I want to be better, but I want to do better," Taylor said of his motivation to change.

When asked how he knows he could stay out of trouble if paroled, Taylor replied, "There's absolutely no way I could betray that trust people have put in me at this point in my life.

"My desire today is to serve, is to make a difference," he continued, while again talking about how he needed to honor the promise he made to Allen's family. "I'm absolutely certain that I won't disappoint anyone. That I will be a productive member of society and I will do exactly what I told you I would do."

The full five-member board will vote on whether to grant Taylor parole — a decision that could take several months. Paul Allen is expected to have his first parole hearing later this year, though an exact date has not yet been set.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021 after many years of reporting for the Deseret News

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