Crime & Courts

2nd suspect in 14-year-old Charlotte girl’s killing arrested in Ohio

Taylor Smith
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A second suspect in the killing of a 14-year-old girl in a Mount Holly park has turned himself in to authorities in Ohio, Mount Holly Police Chief Don Roper said Tuesday.

Eric Deon Combs Jr., 17, of Charlotte was in custody in Montgomery County, Ohio, on Thursday afternoon, and North Carolina authorities have begun proceedings to extradite him back to Gaston County, Roper said.

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. Combs was believed to have fled with his mother, LaQuita Garrett, to Dayton, Ohio, FBI Special Agent Marc Weingrad said in an affidavit filed Monday in federal court in Charlotte.

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.

Combs on Monday also was charged with a federal count of flight to avoid prosecution, court records show.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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