Parents accused of decapitating their minor son and daughter, and showing the bodies to their other kids pled not guilty to murder and child abuse charges in Lancaster, California on Wednesday
Personal trainer Maurice J. Taylor Sr., 35, and Natalie Sumiko Brothwell, 45, pled not guilty on Wednesday to two counts of murder each for the deaths of Maurice Taylor Jr., 12, and 13-year-old Maliaka Taylor in Nov. 2020
Authorities responded to their home 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles in Dec., 2020 after Taylor’s fitness clients hadn’t heard from him for days
The two children killed on Nov. 29, 2020, were found decapitated five days later, in what was described as a ‘brutal’ scene
Taylor Sr. was arrested, but Brothwell remained free until Sept 2021, when she was arrested at her home in Tucson, Arizona
Both also face charges of child abuse of their two surviving sons, 8 and 9 at the time, who were shown the bodies of their siblings and told to stay in their rooms without food
Taylor Sr and Brothwell both face potential state prison sentences of 57 years and four months to life, if convicted as charged
They remain jailed in lieu of $4.2 million bail each and are due back in court in Lancaster, on Feb. 15
A California personal trainer and his partner accused of decapitating their children and showing the bodies to their surviving brothers on Wednesday pled not guilty to murder and child abuse charges inside a Lancaster courtroom.
Maurice J. Taylor Sr. and Natalie S. Brothwell pled not guilty to two counts of murder each for the deaths of their son Maurice Jr., 12, and daughter Maliaka, 13.
The children were allegedly killed on November 29, 2020, in their home in the city of Lancaster, about 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
They were found in separate bedrooms with stab wounds and lacerations five days later, in a scene that Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris called ‘brutal.’
Prosecutors say the kids were decapitated and their bodies were shown to their younger brothers, aged 8 and 9 at the time. The surviving children were allegedly forced to stay in their rooms without food for several days.
Taylor, 35, and Brothwell, 45, were also charged with two felony counts of child abuse each.
At the time the charges were brought in December 2020, the LA District Attorney George Gascon said he declined to tack on special circumstance allegations that may have added the death penalty or life without parole to Taylor’s eventual sentence due to the associated costs.
‘What would be the utility to take somebody that is probably going to spend the rest of his life in prison to continue to add years and waste taxpayers’ money on additional litigation?’ he asked at a news conference in December.
he father faces 57 years in prison if convicted. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office hasn’t confirmed if Brothwell faces the same amount of time, according to KTTV.
The parents remain in jail under $4.2 million bail. They’re due back in Lancaster court on February 15.
Taylor was arrested first in December 2020.
He worked at a physical therapy center in Santa Monica before the murders, and had been conducting training sessions online during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of his clients contacted authorities after he failed to show up for scheduled appointments.
Authorities found the children’s bodies while responding to reports of a possible gas leak in the 45000 block of Century Circle in Lancaster.
Both parents were inside the home at the time. At the time, Brothwell was questioned but not arrested.
It is unknown what motivated the attack, but Taylor’s personal training clients told the Los Angeles Times they had grown concerned over his well-being earlier in the week before the November murders. The fitness trainer, who was described as ‘mellow’ and ‘reliable’, had sparked concerns when he failed to show up for fitness sessions he had been running over Zoom.
Attorney and writer Howard Kern, who saw Taylor for sessions for about seven years, called the Los Angeles County Fire Department at 7.34am on December 4.
Other clients of Taylor had tried calling the Sheriff’s Department.
‘I said, “I’m concerned,”‘ Kern told the LA Times. ‘”We are concerned about a possible gas leak. There are four children and two adults – and we are concerned about their safety.”‘ *
Another client said: ‘I knew they weren’t out of town. They didn’t have money to travel.’
She said she called the Sheriff’s Department earlier that week, and that the property management company running Taylor’s home was also reached.
We were afraid of carbon monoxide poisoning, or they were all dead from falling asleep,’ she said. Taylor was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and two counts of child abuse of the surviving sons, who were 8 and 9 years old at the time.
The children also were forced by Taylor to stay in their rooms without food for several days, prosecutors said. California parents accused of decapitating their two children, aged 13 and 12, and showing the bodies to their other kids plead not guilty to murder and child abuse charges.
Taylor’s case was momentarily paused as the court considered his mental health back in December 2020, according to the Antelope Valley Times.
An evaluation was set for January 6, but the case has since gone forward.
In September 2021, Brothwell who had remained free was arrested at her home in Tucson, Arizona.
and held at the Pima County Jail before she was extradited back to California.
She’s charged with the same counts as Taylor, both facing potential state prison sentences of 57 years and four months to life if convicted as charged.
Taylor and Brothwell each remain jailed in lieu of $4.2 million bail and are due back in a Lancaster court on February 15.