Dr. Jeremy Paikin could tell something was wrong with his lifelong friend Richard Taylor and wanted to help.
“I literally begged Rich to tell me what happened,” Paikin said in court on Monday, recalling an emotional conversation from 2017.
He asked Taylor to tell him the truth. Paikin, a cardiologist, has known “Rich” and his younger brother Chris Taylor since they were growing up in Dundas. He offered to talk to people on Taylor’s behalf, help him find a lawyer, help him pay off his debts. But Taylor declines.
Paikin testified that he loaned his friend between $18,000 and $20,000 over the months to help him start a carpentry business that used salvaged barn wood.
The moment the fire broke out in the bedroom of Taylor’s childhood home at 8 Greening Crt. early on July 9, 2018, Paikin and Taylor’s friendship had been “severed”. It wasn’t that Taylor didn’t repay Paikin, it was that his friend wasn’t transparent, Paikin said.
After the fire, Taylor texted Paikin and he went with the brothers to the police station. Paikin says Chris Taylor is still one of his best friends and went with the brothers for help – but he also told police about his loans to Rich Taylor.
Taylor is on trial for two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother and stepfather. He pleaded not guilty to killing Carla and Alan Rutherford. The Crown argued that the arson killings were financially motivated, as Taylor’s finances were in dire straits.
Paikin said he started lending his friend money after a dinner they had together on Dec. 1, 2016, at which Taylor said he was unhappy with his job as a teacher. He had a talent for woodworking and wanted to start a side business. Paikin offered to help. Over the next few months, he lent Taylor money – bank statements show six loans between $2,000 and $4,000 throughout 2017, but the court heard the file was incomplete because he was not did not include cash loans or loans from 2016.
Paikin said he didn’t question anything at first. But over time, he grew concerned about a lack of communication about what was going on with the company. When Paikin confronted Taylor on the phone about it, Taylor cried, he told the court.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came when Taylor called to say his van had been stolen from his driveway. He asked Paikin for a loan, saying his bank accounts were frozen because his wallet was in the van. Paikin loaned him $3,500 but told Taylor he wanted the money back within 48 hours. When that didn’t happen, Taylor told her there was a fraud investigation and her accounts were still frozen. Paikin offered to help him, vouch for him at the bank, hire a lawyer, but Taylor refused.
This culminated in a meeting at a Starbucks where Paikin said he again begged his friend to tell him what was really going on.
“I’ve been beaten and bullied for one reason or another all my life, it’s something I have to figure out on my own,” Paikin recalled.
After that conversation, Taylor refunded the $3,500 for the van. But he and Paikin stopped talking for months. They briefly texted once.
“I’ve wanted to call you almost every day,” Taylor wrote to Paikin. But he was “angry, hurt and embarrassed by the situation”.
Paikin was bowled over by the message; Why was Taylor angry and hurt? He was the one who lent Taylor the money in good faith, he replied.
Taylor replied, “I’ll give you every penny and the profits too.”
The next messages between them were Taylor telling Paikin about the fire.
On Monday, the trial also heard from forensic officers who documented fire and blood damage to the entire scene.
The court has already heard that after the fire started, Alan jumped out of the bedroom window and then ran back into the house to try to save his wife and their dogs. He was unable to reach Carla through the flames, but his “movements are documented in blood”, Crown aide Mark Dean said.
There were seven blood samples taken at 8 Greening Crt., including from the back patio door, another back door where the window was smashed but the door was locked, the door between the kitchen and a landing, a door kitchen cupboard, a phone found on the floor near the patio door, a wooden stick at the patio door, and a chain on a side door.
All of those swabs were found to match Alan Rutherford’s DNA.
sergeant. Massimo Giuliani, who was part of the Hamilton Police Forensic Branch in July 2018, presented the jury with photographs documenting the blood and horrific fire damage that completely scorched the roof of Rutherford’s bedroom. Aerial photos only show the box spring wires on the left. He also photographed the Rutherfords’ next-door neighbor’s porch where Alan went to get help: bloodstains, a flashlight and a glass of water.
During cross-examination, Taylor’s attorney, Jennifer Penman, suggested that the police photographed everything as it appeared when they arrived. Giuliani accepted. Penman gestured to an open basement window, just below the Rutherfords’ bedroom window. Giuliani agreed that was how he found the scene after the fire.
The trial continues on Tuesday.