HOPEWELL, Va. -- Fifty bucks and a pack of cigarettes; that's what landed two Hopewell brothers in jail. Tabyus and Teandre Taylor were arrested in December, and accused of robbing two victims.
All along both brothers have maintained their innocence. After two and a half months in jail, there was a turn in their case.
The charges were set aside by a special prosecutor.
An arrest near the Golden Express convenience store in Hopewell that December day was possibly the worst moment in Tabyus Taylor's life, he said.
"I was looking confused, Tabyus said. “He told me to get down and I went to my knees.”
“He pressed the gun to my head and said ‘get down’ with the N word,” Tabyus recounted. “He handcuffed us and was searching for a gun."
The 19-year-old was a former Hopewell High football star, once courted by dozens of colleges.
He even signed a letter of intent to play for Virginia Tech, and then found himself behind bars wondering how his life took such a turn.
"I never knew I would get locked up,” Tabyus said. “Seventy-two days is a long time; it was hell.”
Vannette Taylor believes her two sons were mistakenly identified.
"It opens your eyes that this can happen to anybody on any day" she explained.
Hopewell police chief John Keohane said he couldn't give specifics because the charges were set aside, not dropped.
Charges could be brought back if in a year, the victims decide to testify, Keohane added.
The chief maintains his department had sufficient evidence to tie the brothers to the crime.
In the end he said, what they didn't have were two victims willing to testify in court.
Keohane said that both alleged victims were afraid to go forward with the case.
Since his release Tabyus has been prepping at the Believe N U Academic Development Center owned by his godmother Demetria Jennings.
His focus is now on his upcoming ACT test, training for football, and letting the community know this legal setback was just a set up for a comeback.
"Tabyus is going to continue his life, stay on the right path and make big things happen," his mother said.