Clifton Taylor's final mistake, at least his last one as a free man, was to choose to represent himself. But as the article in the Kansas City Star put it, "[H]is judgment had been suspect before."
In March 2009, Taylor decided to rob a bank in Kansas City armed only with a threatening note. This got him $2,700, but only temporarily. He bolted out of the bank and began weaving through nearby parking lots, but two bank employees followed him. They saw him dump his black jacket and green knit cap in the bed of a pickup he passed, and then lost sight of him. Guessing he had ducked into one of the nearby shops, they stopped and waited for police to arrive.
Taylor had indeed ducked into a shop, one with security cameras inside. The security-camera footage, which sadly does not seem to be available online, reportedly shows Taylor inside the shop checking his pockets. Then, "[s]lowly, Taylor put his hands on his head and bent forward, apparently in agony, then bowed his head on the top of a glass display case."
Let's say you're in acting class and you are asked to convey the emotions of a man who has just realized he left $2,700 of stolen money in the coat he threw away while escaping. This is what you should do.
It didn't matter, as it turned out, because the bank employees pointed him out to police as soon as he came out of the store. Still, such a moment is rarely caught on tape.
Since he didn't have the money on him, and the footage was not clear enough to show his face, Taylor argued he had simply been shopping for a cell phone and was arrested for no reason. That might have been a plausible argument except for the eyewitnesses, the DNA retrieved from hair found on the knit cap, the fact that Taylor wore distinctive designer jeans and boots that could be identified from the camera footage, and the odd but rather incriminating detail that when a detective took a break from questioning Taylor and left the room, Taylor tried to eat his interview notes.
"I think all the evidence was planted and all the witnesses were coached," Taylor argued to the jury. All the jurors disagreed.
Link: Kansas City Star