Man accused of killing West Memphis teen faces a judge, bond set

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (localmemphis.com) – The man accused of killing a popular teenager and up-and-coming basketball player is behind bars with a hefty bond. But the victim’s mother believes it’s not enough.

Terry Stewart is charged with killing Taylon Vail earlier this year. Friday, a West Memphis municipal court judge set Stewart’s bond at $500,000.

Stewart’s first appearance inside the courtroom was an emotional experience for Vail’s family, who are still grieving the teenager’s unexpected death and uneasy about Stewart’s bond amount. 

“The only thing that I just can continue to do is pray and trust God during this process,” Tabatha Vail, Taylon’s mother, said.

On a locket she wears, Tabatha Vail’s murdered son Taylon is always close. Friday morning, she watched as the 16-year-old’s accused killer, 26-year-old Terry Stewart, appeared on a video monitor.

“A sigh of relief, that, you know, he’s no longer in the streets,” Vail said.

But Stewart could be back on the streets, if he’s able to post the $500,000 bond set by the judge Friday morning.

“I’m going to continue to lean on God’s understanding with this and ask that God has favor over the bondsmen to not take any money from him,” Vail said.

Authorities said witness statements led them to Stewart’s arrest Wednesday on S. Avalon St. in West Memphis, for the April 12th murder of Taylon Vail, a West Junior High student.

Police and family members said the 16-year-old wasn’t the intended target when he was hit in his grandmother’s living room on E. Harrison Ave.

“He was a charmer for sure,” Vail said. “I mean, he played basketball, he was great at academics, on and off the court.”

As Stewart’s case moves through the court system, Tabatha Vail said she’s leaning on the support and comfort of family, even complete strangers.

“They would say, ‘I’m praying for the mother that lost her 16-year-old son’ and I would give them a hug and I would tell them thank you,” Vail said.

Stewart is scheduled to appear in Crittenden County Circuit Court July 19th.

West Memphis Police declined comment on the bond amount while leaving court Friday morning.

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