Before the robbery, the victim had never done two things: he'd never visited Backpage.com and he'd never had a gun pressed to his head.
Perusing the classified advertising website on the evening of Feb. 15, the victim noticed a thin, brown-haired woman, he said Monday in Hamilton County Sessions Court. It was just a couple of photographs and a number. But he called anyway, and a woman agreed to meet him at an apartment complex off Jersey Pike.
By the time the victim arrived, it was dark outside. The woman wore Marilyn Monroe leggings and greeted him on the corner. After patting him down and finding no weapons, she led him through the parking lot, the victim said. But five feet later, a man burst from the bushes. He trained a 9 mm gun at the victim, forced him to drive to an ATM, and stole $450 and an iPhone.
"He asked me if I had a bank account, and I said, 'Yeah, everybody does,'" recalled the victim, who will not be named. "He said, 'You're going to take me there.' I said, 'I'll pull out as much as I can if you let me live.'"
Authorities said the man and woman — identified as Steven Hurston, 19, and Taylor Smith, 20 — were involved in two Backpage.com setups in February and March. Smith was arrested earlier this month, charged with aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery and criminal conspiracy, and remains at Silverdale Correctional Facility.
After 1 1/2 hours of testimony, her charges were bound over to a grand jury on the same bonds — all told, $375,000, according to Silverdale. Judge Clarence Shattuck also agreed to her attorney's request for a mental competency evaluation.
Hurston, on the other hand, was shot and killed March 26 outside a duplex on Hamill Road during a different attempted robbery, police said.
Joshua Smith, the shooter who has not been charged in Hurston's killing, shared a similar story Monday.
While visiting Backpage.com on March 25, Smith saw a written description of a woman, got in contact and received a few photographs of her. One from her dress to her knees. Another from her dress to her thighs. But none of her face.
He said he met Taylor Smith that night. He said she walked him two or three feet toward the duplex off Hamill Road. He said moments later, Hurston spun him around and pointed a gun at him, demanding money.
"F—— you," Joshua Smith replied.
They started bartering back and forth, he said Monday. Smith was willing to hand over his car. He was also armed with a .45-caliber gun, he said. So when he got the chance, Smith pulled his weapon and ordered Hurston to drop the gun.
"I wanted to hear it hit the floor," he said.
But it never did.
So he fired "five or six times," watched Hurston's body buckle, then called 911. Police found him there, minutes after midnight, still training his muzzle on the unresponsive 19-year-old.
As he told the judge Monday, "I didn't know if he was dead or not."
Contact Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6347 with story ideas or tips. Follow @zackpeterson918.