Updated: May 11, 2010 at 12:00 am
A Colorado Springs man bragged his way into spending the rest of his life in prison for the murder of a homeless man on a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 25.
A judge Tuesday imposed a mandatory life sentence without parole on Taylor Lane Gwaltney, 19, moments after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder for beating David Doyle to death with a baseball bat on Feb. 5, 2009.
Doyle, 55, was discovered early that morning partially wrapped in a sleeping bag on the east side of the bridge near Monument Valley Park near downtown Colorado Springs. He had been hit in the head at least four to seven times, prosecutors said.
A seven-man, five-woman jury took about two hours to convict Gwaltney after hearing nearly three weeks of testimony. He showed no emotion as 4th Judicial District Judge G. David Miller announced the guilty verdict.
Minutes later, Miller described the murder as one “committed for reasons beyond my comprehension.” Gwaltney – whom prosecutors said bragged to 16 people following the murder – said nothing before Miller imposed the sentence.
Earlier in the day during closing arguments, Gwaltney’s public defender Cindy Jones acknowledged that Doyle’s blood was spattered on the front of her client’s pants. That put him at the crime scene, but didn’t prove that he was the killer, she argued.
“What that tells you is that he was there. It doesn’t tell you anything more than that. It doesn’t put a weapon in his hands,” Jones said. She suggested that some one else carried out the murder.
But Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch countered that there was plenty of physical evidence that linked Gwaltney to the crime in addition to his boasting following the murder.
“He couldn’t keep his mouth shut,” Fitch said. “He couldn’t get enough of bragging about what he had done.”
One witness said Gwaltney bragged about having a bottle of “interrogation water” after a detective interviewed him and added, “The cops were stupid to let me go.”
Another witness said Gwaltney told her he had lived up to a tattoo on his arm that read “Butcher King.”
Doyle’s brother Steve and sister-in-law Janet thanked the judge, police and prosecutors following the verdict.
“I think the jury did an excellent job,” Steve Doyle said. “With all the evidence and testimony that was given, I think they gave the proper verdict.
The trial marked the second attempt to prosecute Gwaltney. An earlier attempt ended in a mistrial after the judge ruled that a prosecution witness was in jeopardy of incriminating himself on the witness stand. That witness – whom prosecutors said had helped Gwaltney get rid of evidence - was not called during the retrial.
For video and more on this trial, go to the Sidebar blog at Gazette.com