Accused of burning girlfriend, man returned to jail

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2003

[8/14/03]A Vicksburg man accused of setting his girlfriend on fire testified Wednesday he had no intentions of hurting her. Judge Isadore Patrick, however, sent him back to jail and forwarded the case for grand jury consideration.

“I admit, I did light the lighter. But I did not try to hurt her, and she knows that,” said Bobby Taylor, 32, of the night last month his live-in girlfriend, Doris Jackson, suffered burns that covered nearly all of her body.

In their testimony in a Warren County Circuit Court hearing Wednesday, Jackson and Taylor both seemed fuzzy on the events.

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On July 16, after a night of drinking and playing slot machines at a casino, Jackson returned home to the South Street apartment she and Taylor shared. Both Taylor and Jackson agree on that. What happened next is unclear.

Jackson testified she remembers visiting her mother, Ethel Jackson, who lives in a downstairs apartment, for about 30 minutes and then climbing the stairs to her own apartment.

She remembers talking to Taylor, her boyfriend since 1994. She thinks they were in the hallway.

“I got through talking to Bobby,” Jackson said. And when asked by Assistant District Attorney Mike Bonner, what happened next, the 28-year-old replied, “I was just on fire.”

She couldn’t remember if she walked or if the man she’s lived with for about a year carried her to the bathroom, but the soft-spoken Jackson said she remembered Taylor “trying to put me out” in the shower.

The couple neither can remember who called the mother of two of Taylor’s daughters, for a ride to the hospital. The woman lives on Washington Street, about 5 minutes away.

Taylor did not accompany his girlfriend to River Region Medical Center, but was arrested and charged with aggravated assault when he went there later.

Jackson was taken to The Burn Center in Greenville, where she was treated for two weeks. Scars from the burns were visible on her face and neck in the courtroom Wednesday, and she was also burned on her chest, left arm and both legs.

Near the end of her testimony, and after questions from Bonner and some from Patrick, Jackson lowered her head, nearly shut her eyes, shook her head and said, “I think Bobby did it. I guess he did it.”

And Taylor’s recollections on the night:

They were sitting on the bed when Taylor poured a small amount of rubbing alcohol on Jackson’s hand. In the past, others testified, Taylor has been known to put rubbing alcohol on his hand and set it on fire. But with just a small amount, the fire is easily put out.

“I poured some on her hand, but there was a knock at the door,” Taylor said. When he returned, Jackson was walking toward him. He clicked the lighter and Jackson caught on fire.

He took a blanket from a bed and tried to put out the fire. When that didn’t work, the shower was used.

Taylor had remained in the Warren County Jail until July 28, when he posted a $75,000 bond. Since his release, Taylor was under court orders not to contact Jackson. However, he took her to the Greenville center, nearly 100 miles away, for treatment Sunday.

After the hearing, Patrick ordered Taylor back to jail until the October meeting of the grand jury. Taylor’s attorney, Michael Winfield, called the ruling unjust.

“It’s unjust because he was simply trying to help her,” Winfield said.

At the time of the incident Taylor was on probation from the Mississippi Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to aggravated assault in March 1999. He served a year in the state penitentiary.

Jackson’s sister, Elaine Miles of Rolling Fork, and Taylor’s former girlfriend and mother of two of his daughters, both declined comment.

Bobby Taylor’s sister, Edna Taylor, said this morning her brother was only trying to help Jackson.

“It was an accident, and I’m ready for all this to be over,” she said.