RALEIGH – Jurors discovered the man accused of killing state Board of Education member Kathy Taft has a history of violence toward women Tuesday.
"Jason Williford attempted to rape me that night," the defendant's ex-wife Jessica Foote told jurors. She says Williford was so drunk he tried raping her five days before getting arrested for Taft's homicide.
"With one hand he was holding both my arms and with the other hand it was on the back of my head," said Foote. "That was the first time I ever locked the bedroom door."
During her ex-husband's capital murder trial, the defense asked why Foote didn't come clean about the rape when police arrested Williford for Taft's murder.
"I believed that withholding certain information would have protected him. I thought he was being framed," Foote told jurors.
Foote recalled Williford's strange behavior in the early morning hours of March 6, 2010. After the couple had a fight, Foote said Williford disappeared for hours. When he returned to their apartment, Foote said he wasn't wearing much.
"He was in his boxer shorts," she described.
Later the same day, Foote recalled noticing cop cars surrounding the Raleigh home where Taft was attacked, which was around the corner from their apartment on Wayland Drive. Foote remembers Williford warning her to be careful.
"He said a lady had been attacked in our neighborhood and I should lock the doors when he wasn't home," said Foote.
After Williford was arrested, Foote told the defense she initially supported her husband and wrote him in jail.
"We'll see each other soon because you are innocent and truth will prove this to be fact," she said, reading from her letter to Williford.
An investigator also read the jury the apology letters Williford wrote to Foote and his family.
"I regret so much and wish things were different. This evil in me, I never understood and tried so hard to hide," said Raleigh Police Capt. Andy Murr, reading the jury an excerpt from one of the letters Williford wrote. Murr discovered the letters in Williford's apartment.
Foote eventually found out alcohol wasn't Williford's only vice. She told the jury she did not know her ex-husband had a history of hiding porn and hiring prostitutes. She also said she is unaware of Williford's mental health problems.
The defense has admitted Williford severely beat and raped Taft, but maintains he is mentally ill and did not have the intent to be held responsible for first-degree premeditated murder.
If convicted, Williford faces the death penalty.