A jury in Hamilton has found Richard Taylor guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the arson deaths of his mother Carla Rutherford and stepdad Alan Rutherford after their Dundas, Ont., home was set on fire in 2018.
Now 46, Taylor was a 42-year-old teacher when he was charged in 2019.
The Rutherfords were sleeping in the early hours of July 9, 2018, when a fire ripped through the home Taylor had lived in as a child.
After two days of deliberating, following several weeks of a trial that saw Taylor testify on his own behalf, the jury released their decision Friday afternoon.
Taylor ‘should never see the light of day’: judge
Taylor sat with his back to the court while the verdict and victim impact statements were read.
“How you could do that to your loving mother and Alan Rutherford, who showed you nothing but kindness and goodness, is beyond my imagination and beyond the imagination of the jury,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Toni Skarica told him before announcing his sentence.
“You are a monster. You should never see the light of day again.”
Taylor received the maximum life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years, to be served concurrently.
Victim impact statements were read by Alan’s oldest and youngest daughters.
“Most of all I am devastated that my unborn child and any future children will never have my dad as a grandfather,” Amelia Ryan said.
Taylor was provided the opportunity to speak but chose not to.
Trial lasted several weeks
The married father of two was living in Oakville, Ont., and teaching at an elementary school in Hamilton at the time of his arrest.
Taylor had pleaded not guilty to both first-degree murder counts.
In final arguments in court Monday, Crown prosecutor Janet Booy painted a picture of a man who had spent years lying to loved ones about the extent of his financial struggles, saying Taylor plotted to kill the Rutherfords to get over $400,000 worth of inheritance money, in a last-ditch effort to end his debt and spare his pride.
Defence lawyer Jennifer Penman argued while Taylor was a “financial disaster” and lied about it, he had enough money to pay off his debts, but wasn’t in a rush to do so, and loved his family too much to commit the crime.
The jury dismissed that defence Friday.
Stepdad was ‘hero of this tragedy’: Crown
The fire at the Rutherfords’ single-storey home on Greening Court erupted at roughly 3:30 a.m. ET.
Booy said previously in court that Taylor quietly entered the home using a spare key before getting to the master bedroom, poured petroleum around the bed the Rutherfords were sleeping in and ignited it from the doorway with a match. He then ran out of the house, according to the lawyer.
Flames engulfed the room and the doorway, forcing Alan to escape out the bedroom window, Booy said.
Despite almost all of his body being burned, the 63-year-old tried to get back into the home to try to save his wife and two dogs, court heard. He managed to spare one canine.
“He’s the hero of this tragedy,” Booy said.
After Alan escaped again, he approached his neighbours and told them he tried to save Carla but she was still inside — and he blamed the fire on his stepson, the jury was told.
“Alan is literally on death’s doorstep … he knows he’s going to die and his last breath, he tells you who did it. He tells you, ‘It’s Rich.’ Those are powerful words,” Booy said.
Booy had said Alan, who died in the hospital that afternoon, also told paramedics he believed money was the motivation behind the fire.
Firefighters got Carla out of the home, but the 64-year-old died on the way to hospital.