Court proceedings were canceled Monday in connection with a California man accused of beheading his two oldest children, after the court had concerns over his mental competency.
NBC 4 reports that 34-year-old Maurice Taylor Sr. appeared at the Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster, where a judge scheduled him to undergo a mental health evaluation. The evaluation is scheduled for January 6.
Taylor is facing two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of felony child abuse.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, L.A. County Fire Department arrived at a home off of Century Circle a little before 8 a.m. on December 4 in Lancaster, after several of Maurice Taylor Sr.’s clients called about a possible gas leak at the residence. Once inside, they found the deceased bodies of two of Taylor’s children, Maurice Taylor Jr., 12, and Malaka Taylor, 13.
The Mayor of Lancaster, R. Rex Perris, said both of the children were decapitated, according to CBS 2. Lt. Brandon Dean of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau said that the children’s bodies were in separate bedrooms.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that Taylor’s two oldest children were killed on November 24. Taylor allegedly made his two younger children, ages 8 and 9, look at their siblings’ corpses, then forced them to stay in their bedrooms without food for days.
The children’s mother was inside the home when the children died, but Dean said she is not considered a suspect. Dean added that she is still in contact with authorities after initial questioning.
MailOnline reports that during Taylor’s Monday court hearing, he said that police and other inmates were trying to kill him and claimed he was an “educated fitness trainer which is equal to being a doctor.”
Taylor Sr. was a personal fitness trainer at a Santa Monica physical therapy and fitness center. He’d been holding sessions via Zoom due to the pandemic. Several of his clients became worried after not hearing from him, which was uncharacteristic of him, and contacted authorities and asked them to check if there was a gas leak in Taylor’s home.
When deputies arrived at the home, they didn’t find a gas leak but ended up locating the two deceased children.
Attorney Howard Kern, who was one of Taylor’s clients, said called police after becoming concerned something may have happened inside Taylor’s home, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Ken added that Taylor had been “living under a tremendous amount of pressure” and had a troublesome marriage; his wife reportedly made calls to him at work, yelling at him.
“It was embarrassing — you could hear her yelling at him,” Kern said. “He’d be very apologetic and she’d be yelling at him.”
Another client, who said Taylor had been working from home due to the pandemic, called him a “mellow and reliable,” while another client said she feared something was wrong when Taylor failed to show up for scheduled Zoom meetings.
“We were afraid of carbon monoxide poisoning, or they were all dead from falling asleep,” the woman said.
Taylor is expected back in court on January 13 for a status update. He remains behind bars on $4.2 million bail.
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