ST. GEORGE — A local man accused of multiple first-degree felony crimes, including rape of a child, represented himself during a three-day jury trial that ended early when the jury deliberated for just over an hour before returning a verdict.

Booking photo array of Bryce Alan Taylor, 36, of St. George, taken in 2020, the first was taken on Sept 21, the second on Oct. 19, a third photo was taken on Dec. 1, 2020 | Booking photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Bryce Alan Taylor, 36, of St. George was found guilty Nov. 28 of five first-degree felony charges that include two counts of rape of a child, two counts of sodomy upon a child and one count of object rape of a child. He also was convicted of two third-degree felony counts of witness tampering.

The verdict came following a three-day trial that started with jury selection and opening arguments on Nov. 27, and by late afternoon on the following day, the trial was over when the jury returned with guilty verdicts on all charges. 

The first of six cases goes to trial  

The first case was filed following Taylor’s arrest in  September 2020 after officers investigated a report received two months prior alleging that Taylor had inappropriately touched and exposed himself to a child on more than one occasion. Investigators learned of two more children who were molested between 2017 and 2018. 

During forensic interviews conducted at the Children’s Justice Center, two children reported being sexually assaulted by the suspect on more than one occasion. Police also learned each youngster witnessed the other being abused by Taylor who perpetrated the acts while the children were in the same room.

Taylor was booked into jail on $20,000 bail and released within hours after posting a bond.

One month later, Taylor was arrested on a report alleging he had molested a 9-year-old child and had exposed himself to her on more than one occasion. The incidents took place between 2017 and 2018. He also reportedly terrorized the youngster with photos of people being struck by or impaled with a pitchfork and other violent images as a way to prevent her from telling a parent or anyone else about the abuse.

He was later charged and booked into jail on $20,000 bail and was released after posting bond.

Charges continued to mount for the defendant when a case was filed in Box Elder County at the end of January 2020 wherein Taylor was charged with first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child and lewdness involving a child. The charges were dropped Nov. 17, 2020, when District Judge Spencer D. Walsh signed the dismissal order on a notation that the victim “was not available at this time.”

While that case was ultimately dismissed, reports began filtering into the St. George Police Department as more children started coming forward to speak to police, St. George Police Detective Brandon Dunbar told St. George News at the time of Taylor’s arrest in 2021. 

Dunbar said the children did not initially come forward to report the abuse because they were afraid, but once they found out other young girls reported similar incidents involving the suspect, “they found the courage to come forward and report it, and getting the word out has helped to show these victims they are not alone in this,” Dunbar said. 

As a result, three more cases that included rape and sodomy of a child were filed against Taylor who was accused of molesting multiple children since 2017, including the final case filed in Washington County in April 2021 involving an 11-year-old who was sexually assaulted by Taylor while the child was visiting family in St. George. The incidents were reported to another law enforcement agency since the child lived out of state. 

In that case, the defendant, who was in custody on the five other cases was charged with first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child.  

Investigators also determined that Taylor held a special position of trust with a number of the children for whom he cared for while their parent(s) were at work. 

In all, Taylor faced 10 first-degree felony charges and six second-degree felony charges between all seven cases filed in Washington County, including six counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and one count of rape of a child, as well as three counts of sodomy of a child and three counts of sexual abuse of a child.

It was one of the cases filed in 2021 that was brought to trial last month, and Taylor has remained in custody since his arrest in April 2021 when the judge ordered he be held without bail.

 Global resolution and representation 

While the cases were moving through the courts, the state offered to combine three of the cases into a global resolution in lieu of setting each for a separate jury trial. Taylor declined based upon several factors, one of which was that it would have been prejudicial, according to a motion filed by his defense attorney Steven Nielsen earlier this year.

Bryce Alan Taylor (shown standing at the defendant’s table in the middle of the photo), who was accused of molesting multiple children, attends a jury trial held in 5th District Court via Webex in St. George Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Screenshot captured by Ronald Chaffin, St. George News

From there, Taylor motioned the court to allow him to represent himself, stating there was “no such thing as a license to practice law” and he then submitted a series of memorandums and notices during the weeks and months prior to trial purporting that the courts were illegitimate and held no authority over the proceedings, nor did they have any authority over the defendant.

Taylor filed a motion to dismiss his defense attorney after refusing to work with him any further and instead, he chose to represent himself. But the judge requested that Nielsen remain on standby in case Taylor needed any legal counsel or in the event the defendant changed his mind. 

A competency hearing was also held in the case and following an evaluation, the defendant was found to be fit to stand trial in September of last year. Following a series of reschedulings, the case was set for trial in November.

Four-day trial ends early 

The trial started with jury selection that took place just prior to the Thanksgiving recess, and on Monday morning, Nov. 27, the state, represented by prosecutors Jerry Jaeger and Lane Wood, presented its case by calling nine witnesses, eight of whom were victims, including three who were listed in the current case, as well as five that were parties in the defendant’s other cases. One of the witnesses was still an adolescent at the time of the trial.

Prosecutor Wood said in the state’s opening that testimony of the victims would show what “can only be considered” as the propensity or tendency, an unnatural tendency, in this case, to perform sexual acts with minor children. The remainder of the opening argument, as well as the testimony of the victims, included graphic details of the purported abuse that could not be included in this report.

During the witnesses’ testimony, Taylor, who was acting as his own defense attorney, was prohibited from cross-examining the witnesses after a restriction was put in place when a motion was filed by the state to prevent any further trauma. 

The witnesses testified into the second day of trial, and once the state rested, the judge turned the trial over to the defense. District Judge Keith C. Barnes then asked Taylor, who had remained silent throughout the proceedings, if he had any witnesses to call to the stand in his defense, to which he uttered, “No.”

District Judge Keith C. Barnes presiding over the trial of Bryce Alan Taylor, who stands accused of reportedly molesting multiple children, during proceedings held in 5th District Court via Webex in St. George Utah, Nov. 28, 2023 | Screenshot captured by Ronald Chaffin, St. George News

There was no cross-examination and no closing arguments, nor were there any objections recorded on behalf of the defendant during the jury trial. 

In the state’s closing, Jaeger went over the witness tampering charge involving an admission the defendant reportedly made to an individual that he later threatened if they went to the police, the prosecutor said, adding those efforts to silence the witness had ultimately failed.

Jaeger closed by saying the propensity of the evidence showed that Taylor had an unnatural, sick desire to have sexual relations with young children. 

“We have proven that beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

At 2:37 p.m., the jury was excused to begin deliberations and by 3:45 p.m., they returned to the courtroom with the guilty verdict. 

The judge ordered a presentence investigation to be completed prior to sentencing the defendant who was scheduled to be back in court on Jan. 11, 2024, for sentencing. Until then, he remains in custody without bail and the remaining six cases are still open with the courts. 

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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