Crime & Courts

Affidavit reveals new details in 14-year-old girl’s killing in park

14-year-old Taylor Smith
14-year-old Taylor Smith Go Fund Me

An arrest warrant affidavit filed Monday in federal court in Charlotte revealed new details about the killing of a 14-year-old girl in a Mount Holly park.

Taylor Sotera Smith of east Charlotte died after being shot multiple times in River Street Park at about 3 p.m. April 3, police said.

Darvon Malik Fletcher, 18, of Charlotte was charged with first-degree murder, and police continue to search for a second suspect, Eric Deon Combs Jr., 17, also of Charlotte. Combs is believed to have fled with his mother, LaQuita Garrett, to Dayton, Ohio, FBI Special Agent Marc Weingrad says in the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Fletcher said Combs took Taylor to the park that day. Both left a car and walked into the park. A few minutes later, Fletcher said he heard several gunshots and saw Taylor running back toward the car, the affidavit said. Fletcher said he heard two more shots and saw Taylor fall to the ground.

Combs returned to the car and drove away, according to Fletcher’s account in the affidavit.

Neither Combs nor anyone else was at his home when police went to serve a first-degree murder warrant on him on April 4, according to the affidavit. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police detective called Garrett on her cellphone, and she told the detective she’d taken her son to Dayton for a family vacation, the affidavit says.

Garrett told the detective she was at a rental car company in Dayton and would wait for police there. But when police arrived, Garrett had left, according to the affidavit.

Police did surveillance on Garrett’s brother’s house in Dayton and saw Garrett drop off two girls and drive away. When police stopped her car, Garrett said she was trying to find her son and that she would call the officer when she found Combs.

Combs on Monday also was charged with a federal count of flight to avoid prosecution, court records show. He had not been found as of Monday evening.

A Go Fund Me site for Taylor’s funeral expenses has surpassed the $2,000 goal, with $2,300 having been raised by Monday afternoon.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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