A Suffolk Superior Court has found Rodrick Taylor guilty of second-degree murder for the 2006 killing of a former Milton High School cheerleader.

A Suffolk Superior Court has found Rodrick Taylor guilty of second-degree murder for the 2006 killing of a former Milton High School cheerleader.


The body of 19-year-old Dominique Samuels, a student in Milton High’s Class of 2005, was found burned beyond recognition in Franklin Park in April 2006. The jury on Thursday found Taylor, 37, guilty of strangling Samuels and setting her body on fire two days later to hide evidence.


Taylor will be sentenced Monday morning by Judge Stephen Neel.


Taylor’s attorney, John Swomley, said Thursday that his client would appeal the decision.


The jury deliberated for five full days in a trial that ended just shy of six weeks – a few days short of breaking the record for the longest criminal trial in the county’s history.


“Justice was served today, both for Dominique Samuels and her family,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said in a statement. “It’s clear that the jury followed the evidence, weighed the facts, and reached a verdict based on their observations in the courtroom. Our hope now is that their decision provides some comfort, however small, to the family that still mourns Dominique’s loss.”


Swomley said he was “saddened” by the verdict.


“I genuinely think the government did a horrible job investigating this case and that the district attorney’s office was more interested in getting a verdict than having justice achieved,” he said.


Swomley had argued that the wrong man was on trial for the murder. He pointed to Taylor’s cousin Martin McCray, a childhood friend and housemate of Samuels, and kept him on the stand for a week in early May. Swomley also presented cell phone records in an attempt to prove that Taylor had an alibi that placed him in Norwood the night the body was set on fire.


“The family of my client believes Martin is the real culprit,” Swomley said. “It fits with his volatile nature and doesn’t fit with my client’s reputation within that family.”


Nancy Reardon may be reached at nreardon@ledger.com.