Guilty: jury rejects self-defense plea

Elizabeth Ann Taylor

A Jefferson County jury rejected a 71-year-old Lumberton woman's claim of self-defense in the shooting of her boyfriend, 58-year-old Larry Wayne Atwood of Vidor, convicting the elderly defendant of first-degree murder in Judge John Stevens' Criminal District Court Nov. 29.

Beaumont police responded to a call in reference to a shooting victim in the 3900 block of Eastex Freeway on Oct. 11, 2017, at 5:22 p.m. Upon their arrival, officers located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest area, later identified as Atwood. When they arrived, Beaumont EMS was at the scene attending to Atwood, who later died as a result of the shooting.

Investigating officers soon arrested then-70-year-old Elizabeth Ann Taylor of Lumberton, who witnesses say Atwood identified as the shooter. She was taken into custody in Lumberton and remained in the Jefferson County Jail on a $300,000 bond for months following the incident. Her bond was later reduced, and she was released pending trial.

Taylor’s mugshot, in which she sports facial swelling and a black eye, raised questions in the community, and people who say they are familiar with the situation, including Taylor’s family members, allege that Atwood abused his elder girlfriend. Atwood's family says Taylor was the abusive one from situations they had observed. 

During trial, both sides presented their cases. Taylor's attorneys contended that she was fighting for her life in the cab of the truck the day she shot Atwood. The prosecution argued that Taylor was not in immediate danger when she shot her boyfriend, who she said was abusive. Ultimately, the jury decided she had committed the crime in anger rather than fear. 

As Judge Stevens considered Taylor's sentence in the punishment phase of the trial, he reduced the charge to second-degree murder, reportedly calling it a crime of passion. He sentenced Taylor to four years in prison. She will be eligiblefor parole after two years.