State to seek death penalty against man indicted in deadly New Year’s Eve shooting

Clay County grand jury indicts Taylor Hill on 2 counts of 1st-degree murder and 1 count of attempted 1st-degree murder in triple shooting

A Clay County grand jury indicted a 22-year-old man on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder in a triple shooting on New Year’s Eve near Keystone Heights.

Taylor Hill pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday. The State Attorney’s Office informed him it intends to seek the death penalty.

Liza Dukes, a mother of three, and Jay Wooten were killed in the Dec. 31 shooting on Lori Loop Road. Wooten’s son, Shayne, was wounded in the gunfire but he survived.

Keri Lewis, Dukes’ sister, said she feels the punishment that the state is seeking is appropriate.

“I’m OK with the death penalty," Lewis told News4Jax by phone on Monday. “But it’s not up to me. He’s going to have to face God one day.”

The court hearing Monday comes one day before what would have been Dukes’ 30th birthday.

“I really did not want to have to deal with that before her birthday. I wanted it to be a celebration for her and her life, but having that step done, it did make it a lot easier for tomorrow,” Lewis said. “I just want her to know that I love her more than anything and she will always be remembered for the beautiful person she is and I don’t want to feel sad anymore. I just want to celebrate her for her.”

Lewis described what it was like seeing Hill in court.

“It was just pure evil. That’s all I seen in him,” she said. “My whole body was shaking ... It was hard, but I’m glad I did it for Liza.”

According to court documents, co-defendant Victoria Scifo told investigators that she and Hill were staying with Dukes and the Wootens when there was a confrontation over supposedly stolen clothing. She said a scuffle ensued, and both Wootens and Dukes were shot during the struggle.

Scifo and Hill were taken into custody after they crashed a neighbor’s vehicle during a police chase on State Road 11 in nearby Bradford County.

Scifo is charged with fleeing police and as an accessory to murder in the case. She was not indicted.

About the Author: