Matthew Taylor was 16 years old when he was arrested last year for the murder of Sean Owen. Investigators say Taylor and two other men, Shelton Epps and Derrick Maiden, beat and strangled Owen, shot him twice in the head and dumped his body in the Eno River.
Owen's car was found burning in a west Durham neighborhood. Police canvassed the area and zeroed in on Taylor and his friends.
Authorities believe the three men met Owen on the Internet through a homosexual chat room, then lured him to Durham for the sole purpose of robbing him.
Prosecutors say Taylor, a former football player at Northern High School, is the one who bought the gun and e-mailed Owen. Meanwhile, Taylor's defense attorneys claim their client was not a major role player in the murder, but just tagging along.
Karen Taylor, Matthew's mother told WRAL shortly after his arrest in 2004, her son caved into peer pressure.
"He's a good child. He really is. It was just the wrong people at the wrong time. It was the situation," she said.
At least one of the co-defendants in this case is expected to testify against Taylor. If he is found guilty, the teen could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Lawyers say the trial should last about two weeks.
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