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Taylor Wolff found guilty of second-degree murder in 2008 disappearance of James Carlson
Taylor Wolff is seen in this Facebook photo
Published Friday, August 10, 2018 4:09PM CST
Last Updated Friday, August 10, 2018 5:13PM CST
Taylor Wolff has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old James Carlson, who was last seen in May 2008.
His body has never been found.
The Crown’s case relied heavily on circumstantial evidence and defence lawyer Brad Mitchell argued there was not sufficient evidence to prove that it was Wolff, 33, who caused the death of Carlson.
Justice Gerald Allbright delivered his verdict Friday in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench as he read from a 72-page written decision.
Sighs of relief came from Carlson’s family in the courtroom when Allbright said he found a key Crown witness to be credible.
Lindsay Reiber is a recovering drug addict and Mitchell argued her evidence may come from a collection of rumours and argued her memory is unreliable due to her drug use. Allbright said Reiber’s “trials and tribulations” in life don’t mean she isn’t capable of being a credible witness.
Reiber testified she and Wolff were friends and “avid meth users” together. She had never met Carlson but testified Wolff was frustrated with Carlson because he owed him money.
She said Wolff told her he had “dealt with” Carlson and that he went to Carlson’s house to confront him. She said Wolff told her Carlson came at him with a sword and he shot him and there was a lot of blood.
“(Reiber) remembered the state of his hands being cracked, died and flakey, almost like a chemical burn,” the judgements reads.
He also mentioned something about Carlson being put in a well and that he would never resurface because it leads to an underground waterway or river, she said.
She also said she heard from Wolff, or someone who was with Wolff when she was told, that Carlson was alive when he was thrown into the well and that rocks were thrown on top of him.
“I find that the most significant evidence at trial is the confession or admission made by Taylor Wolff to Lindsay Reibier. As indicated, I accept her testimony in that regard, and I find it to be credible,” Allbright’s judgement reads.
Bullet fragments and a sword, with a sheath on it, were recovered at Carlson’s home along with Wolff’s DNA on a Prosolve cleaner bottle and a series of bloodstains.
“In attending at the residence to confront James Carlson, the accused was clearly the aggressor, and he possessed a firearm,” Allbright wrote.
Allbright also said other witnesses’ testimony corroborates Reiber’s, including that of a friend of Carlson’s who said Carlson was very worried about Wolff. Carlson said if something happened to him, to look to Wolff.
In October 2007, Wolff was arrested by Saskatoon police and was in possession of a small amount of drugs and cash. The investigation found the drugs were intended to be sold to Carlson, who was arrested that same day and gave a statement to police implicating Wolff. As a result of Carlson’s statement, Wolff was charged and Carlson was subpoenaed to testify at a preliminary hearing for Wolff. Carlson was last seen about a month before the scheduled hearing date.
Carlson was last seen at a video store in Watrous on May 14, 2008. Five days later his GMC pickup truck was found in a field near Allan, with his work tools inside.
In December his other vehicle, a 1985 Monte Carlo, was found abandoned near Rosthern but the discovery of that vehicle wasn’t reported to RCMP until May, 2010.
Wolff was arrested and charged in Carlson’s death in 2016.
Carlson was a heavy duty mechanic who quit his job with John Deere and opened up his own business. Friends describe him as a “really good” mechanic and that he had three sides to him: family, work and personal. He was a drug user but his work was very important to him.
Outside of court Friday Carlson’s family members said they are happy the court process is over and would like to lay Carlson to rest.
Wolff is scheduled back in court Sept. 5 for sentencing and to determine when he could be released on parole. A second-degree murder conviction holds a sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for a period of 10 to 25 years.