By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
With some money siphoned from a contract that pays him a minimum of $18 million, Taylor bought himself a pair of all-terrain vehicles. Four-wheel ATVs are popular in West Perrine. They can be seen on weekends buzzing down side streets and traversing the lawns fronting housing projects.
"Everybody just got one because they are fun to ride," says Julius Gardner, a resident of West Perrine and one of the people Taylor is accused of assaulting. "Everybody just likes riding them."
On the last day of May 2005, after cruising the area with a friend, Taylor parked his new ATVs at McFarlane's house. Taylor left the vehicles overnight, though he did not stay at the house himself, according to Carhart.
The house is a compact ranch on a street where rims are stolen off cars in broad daylight. Michael Bowen, the current owner, bought the house nine months ago. Bowen says McFarlane left plenty behind when he moved out.
"I found at least 200 pairs of Timberlands, all brand-new, never been worn," says Bowen, referring to expensive and trendy hiking boots. "He left closets full of new clothes, fashionable stuff that didn't fit me, unfortunately. There were hundreds of photographs of people with machine guns and naked women sitting on their laps, boxes of photographs that I finally threw away a couple months ago."
In a laundry room near an in-ground pool, Bowen pulls down a box, which he opens to reveal shiny rows of ammunition.
"There were buckets of bullets when I moved in here," he says. "Buckets! Shotgun shells, handgun shells, machine gun, everything. Bullets in the shed, in every bedroom, everywhere, thousands of bullets."
In a maroon storage shed located in the back yard, Bowen says he unearthed cases of hard liquor. He points at a red Igloo cooler splattered with mud.
"That's where I found the marijuana, at least a pound of it," he says. "This was a party crib, for sure."
When McFarlane woke up June 1, he discovered the ATVs were missing. He and a friend drove around the neighborhood looking for the vehicles, according to Carhart. They did not call the police.
"Any citizen knows that the police would not treat stolen ATVs as exactly a top priority," Carhart says. "And the bikes were brand-new, so [Taylor] didn't have titles yet. He didn't have VIN numbers, either, because the paperwork was still in transit."
McFarlane hadn't found the ATVs by the time he finally called Taylor. But he had developed a suspect: Ryan Hill.
Hill spent the afternoon of June 1 hanging outside the house where he lived at the time. The house tan in color, a dirt yard, a satellite dish stuck to a flat roof was a place for guys with street names like Cheese, Roach, and Fat Boy to gather and play videogames.
Taylor's blue Yukon Denali cruised by the house multiple times. After several more drive-bys, the SUV stopped on the street. Hill approached the vehicle to ask Taylor what he wanted.
"He started talking nasty and stuff, talking about how öThe police can't touch me. I own this town. Where's my shit?'" said Hill in a deposition.
According to Hill and other witnesses, Taylor exited his truck, pulled a gun out of his waistband, and pointed it at several people. Taylor has consistently denied there were any guns present at the altercation.
"When [Taylor] pulled up, he jumped out of his car," said Gardner. "When he jumped out of his car, [a] black Altima pulled up. That's when the guy, he had a chopper.
"They call it a chopper, but it was an M-16."
"You give Sean back his shit," the man said in a thick Jamaican accent, according to state witnesses. "Give him back his shit or we are going to kill you."
Hill, Gardner, and the others claimed to not have the ATVs.
"So [Taylor] was like, 'I'm going to come back and I'm going to kill all you niggers,'" said Nashea Herlong, one of the state's witnesses.
Ten minutes after his initial quarrel with Ryan Hill, Sean Taylor did come back, as promised. He brought with him what has been labeled "a posse" of men in other cars. Witnesses claim he remained armed. He again confronted Hill and his friends.
"[Taylor was] just jumping up, like in a football game. He was just jumping up, like hyped!" Hill said. "Then he just swung at me when he got across the street. I fought him back. Real good too."
As Taylor and Hill tussled, Charles Caughman, a nineteen-year-old from Baltimore who was visiting McFarlane, attacked one of Hill's friends with a black aluminum baseball bat, prosecutors claim.
Members of both parties scattered. Hill, in flip-flops, ran from Taylor. Taylor and his posse returned to their cars and drove back to McFarlane's house, several blocks north. Taylor's Yukon and the black Nissan Altima were parked in front of the house.
According to police, Caughman said he was sitting in the living room. McFarlane, standing next to Caughman, was talking on the phone and looking out the front window. A silver car pulled up. Caughman saw hands poke out of the car's windows. McFarlane noticed guns and dove to the floor. Taylor's Yukon, the black Altima, and a third car in front of the house were sprayed with bullets.