Courtney Taylor, 44, who allegedly also tried to commit suicide, told police she shot her family in 2017 after a dispute over money

By Jeff Truesdell
June 25, 2020 06:34 PM
Larry Taylor, left, with daughters Jolee, center, and Jessie Taylor
| Credit: Whitley County Sheriff's Office

A Kentucky mom, who allegedly admitted to shooting her husband and two teen daughters to death, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.

The special prosecutor said Courtney Taylor, 44, also claimed to have attempted suicide that day in 2017, reports the News Journal.

The motive for the shootings, according to testimony from a Kentucky State Police detective, involved a dispute with her husband over a depleted $264,000 cash settlement deposited six months earlier, with Taylor writing in a letter that she shot her kids "because she didn't want them growing up without a mother," reports Lexington TV station WKYT.

Taylor was sentenced after entering an Alford plea, which maintains her innocence but concedes that she believed the prosecutor had enough evidence to convict her. Her plea averted a trial in which prosecutors had planned to recommend the death penalty, according to the News Journal.

The bodies of Larry Taylor, 56, and daughters Jessie Taylor, 18, and Jolee Taylor, 13, all were found shot in their separate bedrooms of the family's Williamsburg home, reports WCYB.

Courtney Taylor
Courtney Taylor

Officers who responded to the Jan. 13, 2017, incident were met by Courtney Taylor pointing a 9 mm handgun at them, resulting in Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonas Saunders firing two shots that struck Taylor and put her in the hospital for about two weeks, reports the News Journal.

From her hospital bed, Taylor gave police a lengthy recorded statement in which she blamed her husband for spending most of a worker's compensation settlement that she'd received about six months prior to the shooting, according to a portion of the statement played during a July court hearing, reports the newspaper.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

But Taylor otherwise claimed no memory of the killings, which prosecutor Jackie Steele weighed while considering three factors that affected the decision to accept the Alford plea, reports the newspaper.

"One is the drug use, which she said she participated in [while] trying to commit suicide that day," said Steele. "Whether or not she did, I don’t know. The second thing is where she was shot twice in effectuating her arrest. Post-traumatic trauma syndrome is a possibility where there can be memory loss. Also, she had multiple surgeries and was under anesthesia for the two gunshot wounds for several days after the events, which can also cause some memory loss."

"Taking those three factors, there was a possibility that she couldn’t remember anything," said Steele. The Alford plea was an attractive option because it meant Taylor "will never walk out of prison."

Prior to her sentencing Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Taylor entered her plea to three counts of capital murder on Feb. 19.

"This has been a long journey," defense attorney Joanne Lynch said earlier this year, according to the News Journal. "I think everyone, including Courtney, hopes that this gives everyone a sense of closure and allows people to have some peace."