Aspiring model Valerie Nicole Taylor and accused murderer Freddie Lee Turner are "one and the same person," a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge ruled Tuesday after comparing fingerprints taken from him in Atlanta and from her in Los Angeles.
"The court is satisfied this is the person that is wanted by the demanding state," declared Judge Jacob Adajian, clearing the way for Taylor's extradition to Cherokee County, S.C.
Taylor had been fingerprinted after her arrest earlier this month. Those prints were compared with prints in FBI files of Turner, made when he was arrested years ago in Atlanta for unspecified misdemeanor charges.
The his-and-hers fingerprints were a match, the judge found.
Seventeen years and a sex change ago, authorities claim, she--then a he--shot 26-year-old Billy Marshall Posey to death in Room 10 of the Sansing Motor Court outside the tiny mill town of Gaffney.
Posey, police said, was found naked, sprawled across the bed with multiple gunshot wounds. Witnesses told police that Posey was last seen leaving a bar with Turner, who was dressed as a woman.
A cab driver who said he gave Turner a ride that night told police at the time that Turner showed him a handgun and confessed to the crime.
Now, the 40-year-old Taylor, a strikingly attractive woman who bears a passing resemblance to singer Whitney Houston, denies having killed anyone, said her lawyer, Walter Krauss. She will continue to fight extradition, he added.
After the Jan. 7, 1979, slaying, police and the FBI tracked Turner to Greensboro, S.C., Atlanta and Florida. They gave up the search in 1984.
Turner apparently first came to California in 1986. In 1991, he filed legal papers to change his name to Valerie Taylor. Since then, her lawyer said, Taylor has worked occasionally as a photographer's model, and lived quietly at an apartment complex in Toluca Lake.
"My client is Valerie Taylor," Krauss said outside court. " That's who she is. She's a very gentle, shy person. A very quiet person."
A tip to Burbank police rekindled the almost-forgotten murder investigation that led to Taylor's arrest May 9. She is being held without bail at Sybil Brand Institute for Women. An extradition hearing was scheduled for June 28.
Krauss said he might defend Taylor at the trial in South Carolina, noting that prosecutors there are "going to have a very hard time proving this case. They don't have a murder weapon. They do not have fingerprints."
The original police chief who issued the murder warrant, the investigating officer and the cab driver to whom Turner allegedly confessed the slaying have since died, the lawyer said.
Krauss said Taylor underwent a sex change in Los Angeles sometime before 1991, when he represented her in the legal petition to change her name. He challenged reports that Taylor had changed her sex to hide her identity.
"I think it was a slow process of evolution for her to become a woman," Krauss said. "I don't believe it was done just for the purpose of trying to evade the authorities in South Carolina."