"We've Grown to Support Each Other," Family of Taunton's Victims - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

"We've Grown to Support Each Other," Family of Taunton's Victims Speak Out

 BONHAM -- A Fannin County Judge sentenced a man to life without parole in the deaths of his three family members today.

Thomas taunt on is convicted of killing his step father harold, mother sue, and sister regina in January 2012. I spoke to family members today who are happy to put this behind them.

As Thomas Taunton left the courthouse  and headed into the rest of his life behind bars. Inside, the tears of family members remained -- but for the first time in three years -- they had relief.


"I feel very satisfied that the maximum that he was allowed to get, other than what i would have wanted for him," said Deborah Lucas, Harold's daughter. "I thought the jury was fantastic."


That jury returned a verdict in just thirty minutes and listened to testimony from Taunton himself. In which he claimed his step father kill his sister and mother -- and in anger -- Taunton killed him.


"We knew pop, and we knew what he was like, and we knew it was a ridiculous claim," said Cathy Harpst, Harold's daughter-in-law. "Just to try to save his neck."


While Taunton was voluntarily absent for much of his trial, the family listened to it all, eventaunt onn telling the judge he's on suicide watch in jail, left without clothing or a mattress to sleep on.


"It's ridiculous," Cathy said. "It's too bad you're a little uncomfortable. We're a little uncomfortable. And certainly are loved don't have anything cushy, or any blankets or pillows to sit on."


Today's verdict doesn't only bring peace in the death's of Sue, Regina, and Harold -- pictured here with his son mark at Thanksgiving -- but also brings peace to Mark -- who family members say took his own life -- drowning in grief.


"In a way i feel kind of relief for my dad's soul, because i know how much he was struggling with it," his daughter said. 


Taunton's sentence is two-fold: life without parole in the deaths of his father and sister, and another life sentence for the death of his mother, with a ten thousand dollar fine.

The District Attorney intends to collect the money by selling his truck and belongings. And while family members hope this starts a new chapter, they say something wonderful has come out of it.


"We've grown to support each other," Sarah Harpst said. "Probably more than we used to, and see each other more than we used to for sure."


Thomas Taunton was convicted of capital murder, but the state did not seek the death penalty, instead asking for life without parole. The district attorney told me they decided not to ask the jury to executetaunt onn because of his age -- he would probably die before execution -- and Taunton's lack of prior criminal history.