A convicted rapist called "a significant danger" to the community still could spend the rest of his life in prison after an appeals court affirmed the Finley man's guilty verdicts.
Taylor Ross Landrum, 29, was convicted by a Benton County Superior Court jury in October 2009 of second-degree rape, attempted indecent liberties and four counts of solicitation to commit perjury.
The rape conviction carries a maximum life sentence, which means Landrum's ultimate release will be determined by the state Indeterminate Sentencing Board once the minimum sentence is served.
Landrum appealed his convictions on a number of grounds, but the state Court of Appeals upheld the sex offense convictions and one count of solicitation to commit perjury.
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"It's good news. The court accepted our arguments on all the points," Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor told the Herald. "There are some minor matters that the court remanded for further hearings, but that will not change the result that Mr. Landrum will be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison."
Landrum is being held at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.
He was convicted of second-degree rape for sexually assaulting a 29-year-old woman he met at a Richland bar in October 2008. He claimed they had consensual sex. The woman said she kissed Landrum in his truck, but when she refused to have sex with him, he grabbed her by the throat and raped her.
The attempted indecent liberties conviction stems from a 2006 incident in which he met another woman at a Kennewick bar and offered to take her home to Finley since he lived there too, court documents said.
He instead drove to an isolated road near the Benton County fairgrounds, grabbed the woman and tried to kiss her. She got him to stop and drive her home, then jumped out of the car when he got close to her house.
Landrum has been implicated in several other sex offenses and attempted sex offenses, including a child sex crime, court documents said. He also was a suspect in a rape in Sept. 17, 2006, during the Pendleton Round-up.
While awaiting trial, he was accused of trying to get two fellow Benton County jail inmates to help him by lying or intimidating the victim and witnesses.
The appellate court dismissed three counts of solicitation to commit perjury, but Bloor said the state agreed that only one count should apply.
"We actually agreed ... that if you ask somebody to commit perjury, it doesn't matter how many letters you sent to them or how many times you ask them. It just counts as one offense," he said. "The defendant wanted the whole series of charges thrown out. We were happy the court agreed with our position that one charge is appropriate."
Landrum was ordered to serve his 23-year sentence for rape in addition to the 13 years he got for attempted indecent liberties for a total minimum term of 36 years. The appeals judges, however, said the prison terms should run at the same time and ordered him back to Benton County Superior Court to be resentenced.
"It will change the minimum sentence ... but the key is we have a lot of evidence about him being a serial rapist, and we're very happy the court will sentence him to a maximum of life and we're hopeful the sentencing review board will do the right thing," Bloor said.
The appeals court found no merit to Landrum's arguments that his cases shouldn't have been tried together, the trial court should have allowed the defense to ask one of the victims about her drug use, or that there wasn't enough evidence to prove attempted indecent liberties.
He also tried to argue that his right to a public trial was violated when juror questionnaires were sealed after the trial without first deciding if there was a compelling interest to seal them.
The judges said Landrum's right to a public trial was not violated by the sealing of the questionnaires, but that failing to conduct the analysis "violated the public's right to open court records" and said it should be reviewed again by the trial judge to determine if the sealing was appropriate.