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Yet another tip came from a veteran policeman who'd worked off-duty at the Diamond Cabaret when Taylor first began dating Woods. "I didn't know they'd gotten back together," this officer says. "The next thing I hear about is this beating, and I decided to say something to the right people. Because Alex Woods should not be on this job. He should have been in a lot of trouble a long time ago."

Both Saltzman and Rowe say they can't comment on the case. According to city charter, Rowe explains, "we can't break confidentiality. I just can't comment on this case at all."

By December 24, Internal Affairs had placed a call to Mary Taylor, who didn't get the message because she was busy wrapping presents at Alex Woods's house. "He was working that day," she says, "but he came home in the middle of the day, because someone had told him an investigation was going on. He was like, who did you tell, what did you tell them? And I had no idea."

Taylor says Woods took her to an upstairs bedroom and stood by coaching her as she called Internal Affairs and lied, saying that she'd been in a car accident. (He initially suggested the horse story; she reminded him that too many people had already heard it.) Then Woods told her to stick with the story. "He told me I was a bartender at a topless place and no one would believe my word against his," Taylor remembers. "I thought I'd handled it, and then everything started coming back around. Darlene Clarry told me to please do something, have a picture taken or something, so I would have proof."

Meanwhile, Tammy Peterson was telling her much the same thing. "I told her she might want to consider making a tape," Peterson says. "How else could she get proof? What did she have to lose?"

"Nothing," Taylor says now. "But I was terrified."
Not so terrified, though, that she didn't steal a small tape recorder from Woods's home. Her motives were pretty simple, she says: "If he kills me," she remembers thinking, "I want someone to know who did it." Taylor was wired in early January, when she struck up a conversation with Woods. The following are excerpts from that tape:

Alex Woods Jr.: "I'm not going to put up with this fucking bullshit. I'm a pretty nice guy to a lot of people, and I'd do anything for a lot of people, but I'm not going to get walked on by fucking white trash and niggers in my fucking life...I've got a short fucking temper probably because of things that have happened to me in the last fucking three years.

"Because I did it, Mary, okay...It's not like I didn't fucking regret it...but you really fucked up."

Mary Taylor: "I'm not the one who beat the shit out of me. Okay. I was nice, Alex."

Woods: "I didn't hit you because you were nice, Mary. I didn't hit you because you were nice."

Taylor: "Why did you hit me?"
Woods: "I told you, I asked you to please be quiet. There you go. Exactly...You just wouldn't shut up."

Taylor: "I had fucking bruises all over my (inaudible), you choked me, I had a black eye..."

Woods: "I'm telling you, I didn't hit that hard."
Taylor: "Well, you didn't need to hit me at all."
Woods: "All right, and you never needed to break anything or you never did hit anybody, either."

By mid-January, Mary Taylor knew she was going to have to tell the truth to Internal Affairs. She also knew she had to have a lawyer. She'd met Jim Moss on New Year's Eve at--where else?--Shotgun Willie's.

"I didn't think too much about her case till she showed up in my office," Moss says. "Then I heard her story and I called up Captain Saltzman at Internal Affairs and said, `Hey, you got a problem with your department. It leaks.'"

Saltzman and Rowe came to Moss's Lakewood office. Mary Taylor was there, and with a tape recorder running, she began to talk.

"...he doesn't think he did anything wrong," Taylor said toward the end of her second interview with Rowe and Officer Jennifer Stack.

"That's why he needs some help," Rowe replied.
"I know, I need to do it."
"You know," Stack said, "if he doesn't get help now, it could come to the point where he kills you or he kills someone else."

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Robin Chotzinoff
Contact: Robin Chotzinoff