A knock had come at his apartment window just before midnight, Smart said. It was the same window from which his longtime best friend and roommate, Jonathan Volcy, sold drugs. Volcy, a Haitian orphan whose only family was a nearby sister, was on the phone with his girlfriend. Neither Volcy nor 14-year-old Raynathan Ray, who'd recently run away from his El Portal home after saying he wanted to be a gangster, wanted to answer the knock. So Smart opened the window. "There was this one dude who was all mumbly and nervous," Smart told the couple. Smart said he couldn't make out the man's face. "All he was saying was, 'Gimme sumthin'. Gimme sumthin'.

In Detroit, city police shot a 7-year-old girl in the head in a botched attempt to catch a suspect sought on The First 48.

"So I said, 'Give you what?'"

A second person then appeared before the window. He held a black 9mm Luger. From within him came a deep voice: "What now, nigga? What now?" Smart dove out of the way as bullets filled the room, striking the freezer, the entertainment center, the walls. When the shooting subsided, Smart said, he sprinted out the back door, yelling for help.

Smart told investigators the killer had shot into the apartment from outside. Police found the window opened six inches.
Courtesy of Joe Klock
Smart told investigators the killer had shot into the apartment from outside. Police found the window opened six inches.
Smart called police to talk about the murders. When they met, detectives arrested him.
Photo still from A&E's The First 48
Smart called police to talk about the murders. When they met, detectives arrested him.

As the couple listened, suspicion germinated. First, there were Smart's feet. They looked auburn, like he'd stepped in something red. Was it blood? Then, Smart's story seemed to defy reason. "With what happened to the other two, how's he going to come out without a scratch?" Rivera asked the cops. "It's common sense."    

"I think he killed them," Fernandez later told investigators. "When he was in my house, he looked nervous, then he was OK, then he would cry, then he was fine. He knew his buddies were dead before the police got there."

Their doubts about Smart were confirmed, they said, when he departed their house and found a phone at another neighbor's. The youth placed at least 20 calls but none to police. Would an innocent man not call the cops?

Smart walked out of the neighborhood the next morning at 5, mulling the same question. He knew the police were looking for him but vacillated about whether to call them. "The way I grew up," he now tells New Times, "snitches get stitches. That's just how it is."

At a friend's place in North Miami, Smart took a call from his mom, Flora Smart. She's a rounded woman with a lazy eye who bounced in and out of homelessness with Taiwan during his childhood. While she looked for work in those days, the boy was often left alone or in the care of others. When he was only 6, she recalls, Taiwan's uncle forced him to smoke marijuana laced with cocaine multiple times before she discovered it. So in the shelters and unemployment lines, Flora and Taiwan had forged a fierce, determined relationship: They'd been through shit before, and they'd make it through again.

"Mom, my friends been shot!" Smart wept into the phone. "And people think I did it!"

"Taiwan," she recalls whispering into the phone, "the police are looking for you." In fact, she told her son, a thick man named Detective Fabio Sanchez had already arrived at her apartment to see if Smart was hiding there. He had a manicured widow's peak and a harried camera crew in tow. "The police says the killer's out there looking for you," she continued. "You need to talk with them. They can protect you."

But if interviews with the woman who discovered the bodies are any indication, police had different intentions. Around the same time Smart hung up the phone, Ciara Armbrister emerged from a soundproof room at the Miami Police Department that detectives call "the box." She'd been in there for hours, telling and retelling how she'd found the bodies and what had happened before the murders. The transcript of the interview reads like something out of Waiting for Godot, as detectives repeat the same question over and over. They wanted to know if Smart had argued with his roommates before the murders.

As Armbrister affirmed seven times in the interview, there had been an argument before the murders, but it hadn't involved Smart and the victims. It had been between Smart and an unnamed "Spanish guy."

Q: Was there any time that Taiwan argued with [victim Volcy]?

A: No.

Q: The argument was not towards each other?

A: Uh-huh.

Q: Was there a time when Taiwan was arguing with [victim Ray]?

A: No.

Q: So the argument was strictly with the Spanish guy?

A: Uh-huh.

This information, however, was disregarded in The First 48­­­, in which the narrator growls, "The man the witness says the victims had argued with is named Taiwan." The police report likewise misrepresented her statement: "According to the witness," Detective Fabio Sanchez later wrote, "the defendant was involved in a violent argument with the victims over money and narcotics."

Armbrister eventually signed an affidavit stating that Smart had argued with the victims in Creole over money — despite the fact that neither she nor Smart speak Creole. Reached by New Times, Armbrister expressed outrage at the cops' treatment of her during that interview. "They made what I said into something entirely different," she says.

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103 comments
Juan Fernandez
Juan Fernandez

Really... says the lady from CT... where the law is more biased and corrupt than FL.. Oh wait you guys have the biggest economic gaps in households in America, so I'm sure there a bit of that happening in CT.. So people don't get taken in and held for a statement? And if they're a person of interest they don't get detained longer or charged on the spot for their crime (if the evidence is right)? Then at an initial hearing they don't get an opportunity by the judge at bail dependent on their charge? Then they either bail or sit in jail until their case goes through the ringer for an end product of either guilty or not guilty?

Tawanda Mays Jolly
Tawanda Mays Jolly

What an ignorant statement! You know nothing about the Justice system! This is not how the system works! Please educate yourself about American juris prudence!

Aaron Anderson
Aaron Anderson

Lol, this is the stupidest headline I've ever seen, and completely false.

Juan Fernandez
Juan Fernandez

doesn't matter.. that ends up working in the favor of the criminals anyways.. A lot of them get charged are held in jail until they're either bailed or their hearings then found guilty or innocent. Happens. That's how the system works.. The reason for the 48 is the statistic that when a crime is not solved within the first 48 they rarely if ever are and their chances and odds diminish greatly.

Erik Ace SobeArtist
Erik Ace SobeArtist

They have rushed many cases to get it under 48 hrs for the show! The 48hr line is BS

jaytoolman92
jaytoolman92

It will be interesting to see how the court system handles this whole situation. I hate to see innocent people get tied up with these types of things. I really feel for that girl who now has to find a lawyer to help her understand the legal system just because she found the bodies. http://armstrongbarrington.com/criminal.htm

darrin.weis1
darrin.weis1

Hey NIHGABBBY? CAUGHT THE VIBE YET? WE HATE YOU.

darrin.weis1
darrin.weis1

It is tough being a porch monkey in a world that detests you. 

t13heather
t13heather

There are many people that are in prison that are innocent. You're stupid to blame a TV show for putting innocent people in prison. If "The First 48" did not exist, there would still be people in prison wrongly convicted. This is a stupid article. Reality TV is not actual reality.

Lynxx3
Lynxx3

Excellent read. This is such a travesty of justice. I hope you win your case against the PD Mr. Smart.

And I hope you get your life back.  

Killjudas
Killjudas

Terrence Mccoy (author) you are a lousy journalist. Next time be less sensational and more factual. I don't love or hate the First 48 show for documenting what's happening. Whether it's filmed or not, black men are still falsely imprisoned every hour, I'd argue. I understand the prison industrial complex and it's disastrous effects. It's modern slavery for African Americans (and sometimes anyone without a good lawyer). However, you're making your disdain for First 48 laughable because you're sensationalizing the story. You're overly descriptive... "a curvacious 18 year old woman named ciara"... "teenager she recently started sleeping with". Whoa! Is this a soap opera or valuable information. Your writing is lousy.

loriegrande
loriegrande

Great article.  The fact is that this show negatively impacts homicide investigations and prosecutions.  If only one homicide investigation were to be impacted by this show, just one - that should suffice as grave enough of an impact to take the show off the air.  But many more than one have been impacted; that is not what A&E wants to believe making money off the show or even what those who are entertained by the show want to believe, yet it is true.  However, being personally impacted by this show, perhaps, my view is skewed.  What is needed is a independent, professional assessment and analysis of the impact of this show on homicide investigations across the country, since its inception.  I am happy to lend a hand to anyone interested in advocating for such as assessment. I can be reached at Facebook:  William Fenzau.

AsokAsus
AsokAsus

Ridiculous article. Very few of the crimes depicted are actually solved in 48 hours. Many shows depict investigations that go on for months. 


It is a fascinating show, however, as it does show how police investigations work, with most crimes being solved due to either witness/informers are the fact that video cameras are so pervasive that many crimes are caught on tape.


And the real cherry on top is that most of the ignorant, stupid criminals actually confess on tape in the interview room with the most obvious ploys by the cops like, "Well, we heard from so-and-so you shot Skeeter 12 times, but we'd like to hear your version of how many times you shot him." And the shooter says, "Oh, no way. I only shot Skeeter twice. Can I go home now?"

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.........................funny but isn't it the ADVERTISERS that actually contribute the money funding the profit of the show ?

so if the GOP national committee wanted to pay millions to air this show - they could - right ?

okay so what about the billions of dollars in food stamps and section 8 housing assistance and school and municipal services including water sewer and electric that is spent of public taxpayer money in aid and assistance and support in these communites under NIMBY (white people pay so these people don't live near them (N)ot (I)n (M)y (B)ack(Y)ard

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

...................blaming a reality based TV show for airing peoples' general stupidity is the real story here.................IF tywana and treyvon and now taiwan had been in the LIBRARY there is NO SHOW - right ? say amen !

brawley , martin and now smart (who apparently isn't) are ALL throw-away kids who's parents only had them to quilify for FREE government cheeze and section 8 housing and oBaMaphones and these kids get "thrown away" once they no longer qualify their parent for financial hand-outs and public support - so they are basically on their own UNeducated UNemployable and desperate leading to drug use and eventual abuse making them prone to do stupid things like crimes which escalate in severity until BANG its over for them

it doesn't look like the world is losing a rocket scientist here and what was spent on him from public taxpayers pockets life-to-date probably exceeds hundreds of thousands of dollars total in food stamps and assisted housing and support from social services and free programs which he has no chance to ever pay back = period

blame the parents

Derek Austin Scholl
Derek Austin Scholl

like its our faults cops are morons and the undesirables they catch are even dumber

mwillemstein
mwillemstein

oh boo hoo...like this is the first case of injustice in your great US of A....look at your track record and now u wanna blame a TV show...love the first 48 and have every episode recorded....to all you haters Kiss my ass....'they make the black neighborhoods look bad'....duh...wonder why...cause that's where all the shit happens...plundering, murdering and raping anything they can get their hands on....even if they were offered a way out they wouldn't take it cause they prefer their 'thug' life....killing a man just because he looked at you or 'mad dogged' you as the knuckle dragging thugs like to call it.....Det. Dwayne Thompson is a legend..can't wait to see any episode with him in....

tonlo
tonlo

@Killjudas so no white people convicted are innocent? It's just black men? Gimme a break & stop making everything about race. There are crooks, murderers, sex offenders etc in every race, country, religion & economic status. Goes the same with the wrongfully accused. Treat & judge everyone the same, don't be part of the problem.

tambocha
tambocha

@AsokAsus  The producers know that the whole 48 hours thing is just a device.  Besides, they even say that it's about finding a lead within 48 hours, not solving the case. That pretty much covers them.  It's not worth getting distracted from the merits or criticisms of the show itself over the title of the show.

lendagod
lendagod

Yes blame the parents for railroading and the mistreatment of people who don't have the understanding of laws or the means to get suitable legal counsel to fight said charges....Frank let me ask you a question if your brother was stalked and cornered by person then shot after defending them selves you would be up in arms about the rights of people being trampled on correct? If you were in your home the pace you are supposed to feel the ultimate safety with your family and someone tries to kill you and kills your family you get away but get charged for the murder would you say," well I guess I'm guilty cause I wasn't reading a book"?!? No you wouldn't because no one deserves to be put in lockup for a second if they don't deserve it period sir. You sound idiotic with your backwards logic the end all be all isn't education and the library won't keep innocent people out of jail boy stop.

DonaldDilly
DonaldDilly

Confessions can be faked. Police can use duress, and there have been cases where people were forced to confess to things they didn't do

joshlicon
joshlicon

You are racist and ignorant. That is all.

nuther_88
nuther_88

@mwillemstein DT is the real deal fosho...but there's a few clowns as well - Interview skills suck...Peep ready to confess but det shuts it down. (Cleveland)

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@lendagod  


i guess rev sharpton and his ilk really do get to shape the BLACK people narrative because you miss the point 


okay by me but another fifty (50) years will go by and BLACK people may be obsolete and more irrelevant than they are today,  especially when the BLACK family disintegrates entirely


jews made it, italians made it, germans made it, asians made it and now hispanics are making it - WHY ?


GO ASK THEM HOW,  like i did and do,  and they ALL say the same thing - their parents and a supportive family !


you won't see any jews or italians or germans or asians or hispanics going around with their pants pulled down to their knees and their caps on backwards - WHY ? - they ALL say because they do NOT wish to disrespect their parents and bring SHAME to their supportive family

mwillemstein
mwillemstein

@joshlicon  nobody commends the detectives for all the times that they got it right...so typical...seek the bad and ignore the good...

mwillemstein
mwillemstein

@joshlicon  My favorite detective in the show is Dwayne Thompson and he happens to be black and i'm a racist...wtf

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@lendagod  


okay 


good luck with all that


when you want to join civilized society, pull your pants UP put you cap on straight get a book and READ it (and thank a teacher) and we will be here waiting for you

lendagod
lendagod

Yes your right there isn't a mafia or murder Inc wasn't Jewish gangsters the Azn the neo Nazis I could go all night your missing the point sir just because the minority is bad doesn't mean the majority should be punished I don't divide things by race or social economic standing things of this nature is right or wrong and if your racist behind was being falsely accused I would feel the same way period END OF DISCUSSION

bookermarcus87
bookermarcus87

@frankd4 @lendagod Who says that pulling up one's pants, wearing a baseball cap "straight", and reading a book deems one civilized?  Russell Simmons is a billionaire and YOU, my friend, are a blogging zero.  Get my point?

 
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