Feb 29, 1996: A Pregnant Teenager is Shot While Riding the Bus to School

Soulard Homes

After boarding a school bus on the morning of February 29, Malik Nettles shoots the bus driver and then fires five bullets into 15-year-old Kyunia Taylor, a freshman from Beaumont High School in St. Louis, Missouri. Taylor was later pronounced dead at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The motivation for the shooting became clear when the dying girl had an emergency cesarean section to deliver a three-month premature baby daughter at the hospital. The child, named Diamond, lived for 23 days before dying. Prior to the shooting, Taylor and her mother had met with the father and next-door neighbor, 30-year-old Mark Boyd, about the pregnancy; Taylor decided against an abortion.

Boyd, the father of two other children with another woman, was not pleased with Taylor’s decision and hired Malik Nettles, 23, to kill both her and the unborn child. Apparently, Boyd was concerned that the child would be retarded because Taylor attended special education courses as a result of her severely limited vision. He paid Nettles about $4,000 to carry out the attack.

Prosecutors were disappointed when jurors convicted Boyd of only second-degree murder and recommended the minimum sentence. Still, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy J. Wilson said that the crime was “evil incarnate,” and gave Boyd the harshest sentence available to him—26 years in prison. “My mother used to say that stealing from the poor box at church is the worst evil,” Wilson told Boyd. “This is worse.”

Malik Nettles’ first trial ended in a hung jury, largely due to the fact that two men confessed to the murder and then later recanted. At the second trial, Nettles was convicted and received six consecutive life sentences. Nettles’s sentencing judge called him heartless and dangerous. “It is my intent, Mr. Nettles, that you spend the rest of your natural life in the Missouri Department of Corrections. You are too dangerous to be in the community,” he told the killer.

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