Last month, Jermain Taylor remarkably recaptured a share of the middleweight crown. This month, the good-guy boxer more remarkably finds himself facing 26 years in prison.
Prosecutors on Wednesday charged the 2006 Arkansan of the Year with first degree battery and with making terroristic threats. The charges stem from an August 26 incident in which Taylor shot Tyrone DaWayne Hinton, a 41-year-old cousin, at the boxer’s Arkansas home.
The New York Post reported the week of the shooting that “Hinton called Taylor on Wednesday to apologize for what led to the shooting Tuesday night. Sources in Little Rock said Hinton recently attended a drug rehab facility for what was described as ‘hard-core’ drugs, including crack. Taylor had offered his cousin financial support in the past, but stopped when the cousin’s drug habits continued.”
The shooting occurred after a confrontation between the men while the fighter’s wife and children were at home. Taylor’s wife, Erica, a draftee of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, reported intruders on the family’s 40-acre property via 911. “Come on girls, in here,” she instructs her daughters during the call. “I didn’t see them. I was in the house cooking. Come on in here, close the door.” Her husband warns on the phone call, “They better come get him before I kill em.”
Lawyers classify Arkansas as a “duty to retreat” state. No wide-ranging “stand your ground” law, the likes of which boosted George Zimmerman’s chances of acquittal in his shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, exists in Arkansas. State law provides other means of defense for Taylor, though. The Arkansas code affirms: “The right of an individual to defend himself or herself and the life of a person or property in the individual’s home against harm, injury, or loss by a person unlawfully entering or attempting to enter or intrude into the home is reaffirmed as a fundamental right to be preserved and promoted as a public policy in this state.”
Less than a decade ago, Taylor ranked as one of a handful of fighters in the conversation of boxing’s pound-for-pound best after defeating Bernard Hopkins twice. Then brutal knockouts at the hands of Kelly Pavlik, Carl Froch, and Arthur Abraham jeopardized the continuation of his career. Largely forgotten, Taylor had put together a five-fight winning streak that culminated in the October upset of Sam Soliman that gave the Razorback boxer the same IBF title that he had taken from Hopkins nearly a decade ago.
Taylor now faces a massive payday against such potential opponents as Floyd Mayweather, Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, and Gennady Golovkin. Alternatively, in the boxer’s best-of-times/worst-of-times stretch, he faces more than a quarter century in an Arkansas prison.