Gaston man sentenced to life plus 30 years after killing, raping 60-year-old woman

Peter Lynn Coffey

The Eleventh Circuit Solicitor's Office has announced the conviction of a Gaston man who murdered and raped a 60-year-old Lexington County woman in 2015.

According to Solicitor Rick Hubbard, Peter Lynn Coffey, 44, was found guilty Friday after the jury deliberator for an hour and a half, convicting him of murder and first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The Honorable Knox McMahon sentenced Coffey to life plus 30 years.

On August 9, 2015, a family friend went to check on Joanne White Taylor, who hadn't contacted her mother in two days. The family friend broke a window and found Taylor's body inside the residence, contacting authorities afterward.

An autopsy determined Taylor died after being beaten to death, receiving around 21 blows to the head. Law enforcement found a small sledgehammer covered in blood next to Taylor's body, which was believed to be the murder weapon. Evidence also showed that the rape occurred at or near the time of death.

Testimony revealed that Taylor's blood was found on Coffey's shorts, which were in his washing machine. Coffey's blood was found on the shower curtain in Taylor's house. Other testimony said Coffey used Taylor's cell phone twice on August 8. Investigators found the phone next to Taylor's body.

Coffey maintained his innocence during sentencing.

Solicitor Hubbard praised his staff and the Lexington County Sheriff's Department for their hard work finding Coffey, who was a registered sex offender. Solicitor Hubbard stated that "a violent sexual predator has been removed from our streets."

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