St. Louis police fight cop killer's parole request

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | 12:34 p.m. CST; updated 1:48 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ST. LOUIS — Current and former St. Louis police officers and city prosecutors are fighting a parole request by a 72-year-old man serving a life sentence in a patrol cop's death over a $4 parking ticket.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that a website honoring police killed in the line of duty has launched a letter-writing campaign asking the state to deny Willie Taylor's sixth request for parole.

Taylor was convicted of second-degree murder in the June 1985 death of Johnnie Corbin, 41, an 18-year police veteran. Corbin was killed after Taylor rammed the officer's three-wheeled motorcycle with his car at more than 50 miles per hour. Taylor then repeatedly kicked Corbin in the head while searching his pockets for the ticket. Corbin ticketed Taylor's 1977 Plymouth Volare because it was parked during street-cleaning hours.

"He cut Johnnie Corbin's life short, so why should he enjoy freedom?" said John King, 70, a former city traffic officer who served alongside Corbin and had breakfast with him the morning of his death.

Corbin's former colleagues described him as a mild-mannered, professional and sharply dressed "country boy" who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He had triple bypass heart surgery two years before his death and spoke of retiring to Georgia to move closer to family.

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday but no decision is expected. Taylor declined a reporter's interview request through a prison system spokesman.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty for Taylor, but a jury convicted him on a reduced charge after medical experts testified he had suffered brain damage from chronic alcoholism.

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