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Husband, 86, gets probation after wife's death in suicide pact

January 16, 2013 |  1:56 pm

An 86-year-old San Luis Obispo County community activist was sentenced to three years probation Wednesday in the death of his 81-year-old wife.

George Taylor pleaded guilty last month to a charge that he helped his wife Gewynn kill herself.

Taylor, a retired Los Angeles County firefighter, and his wife were found in their car by a ranger at Montana de Oro State Park about 11 p.m. on Dec. 10. Gewynn was in the back seat, dead, with a plastic bag encasing her head and a rope cinching it around her neck. Her husband, distraught, had rope marks on his neck and told officers he had unsuccessfully tried to kill himself.

Taylor and his wife were well-known locally for their frequent appearances at meetings of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, where over the years they were part of a group objecting to a massive sewer project in their town of Los Osos. 

At Wednesday's brief hearing, Judge Ginger Garrett allowed Taylor to forgo GPS monitoring during his probationary period. His attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said he has received intensive mental-health counseling since the crime and has formed a bond with his therapist.

Taylor, a slender, soft-spoken man, thanked Judge Ginger Garrett and the "team" behind him but declined the judge's offer to make any further comment.

In an interview, his attorney called the prosecutors' decision not to file more serious charges and the judge's decision to give Taylor probation "a perfect storm of wisdom."

He said the couple had decided they no longer wished to endure the pain of various ailments and the deterioration of old age. They had discussed their planned suicide with others who were close to them and Gewynn Taylor chose the date,  Funke-Bilu said.

He declined to identify the couple's physical problems and said he did not know what kept Taylor from completing the plan. But he said he had no doubt suicide was the intent of both husband and wife.

"They wanted to go out while they still had the power to do so," he said.

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-- Steve Chawkins

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