Two North Carolina men already jailed for the rape of a South Beach tourist who died of an overdose during spring break now also face first-degree murder charges.
A Miami-Dade grand jury indicted the men on Wednesday and added a separate first-degree murder charge against one of the defendants for the death of another man three days later, also on South Beach and over the same spring break holiday.
Both tourists were killed — state prosecutors argued and the grand jury concluded — from overdosing on the powerful and too-often-fatal opioid, fentanyl.
The grand jury found Evoire Collier and Dorian Taylor responsible for the fentanyl-induced death of Christine Englehardt, 24, of Pennsylvania. They already were accused of raping her and stealing credit cards. Grand jurors also found that Taylor sold the same deadly opioid ingested by Englehardt to Walter Riley, 21, from Chicago. He died two days after Englehardt.
Law enforcement sources said Riley believed he was buying Percocet, a common pain pill often used after dental surgery, from Taylor, but it instead turned out to be fentanyl. Riley was found unconscious on Washington Avenue and was taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center, where he later died.
A three-page grand jury report found that Collier and Taylor killed Englehardt while committing sexual battery and burglary that resulted from the “unlawful distribution of fentanyl.” It found Riley died the same way, on drugs supplied by Taylor. It also said they “unlawfully” entered Englehardt’s hotel room and sexually assaulted her without consent.
After stealing her credit cards, the grand jury found both men used them illegally to make purchases at SOBE Liquors and the Sugar Factory.
Collier’s attorney Phil Reizenstein said he was “stunned” by the grand jury’s indictment. He said the medical examiner found Englehardt had ingested so many different drugs that it was near impossible to pin down the one that caused her death.
“I think they’re going to regret doing this,” said Reizenstein. “I think by the time I’m finished with them, they’re never going to be able to say she died of this.”
Taylor’s attorney Liesbeth Boot couldn’t be reached.
First-degree murder charges in Miami-Dade County can only be passed down by a grand jury. Both Collier and Taylor remained at Metro West correctional center on Tuesday. Defendants facing a murder charge are automatically denied bond.
Both men were arrested March 23, five days after Englehardt was found unresponsive inside her room at the Albion Hotel. Surveillance video caught the men entering the hotel, then leaving. They were initially charged with sexual battery, burglary with battery, credit card fraud and petty theft. Riley died on March 20.
Collier and Taylor pleaded not guilty to the initial charges. Englehardt’s death and the ensuing arrests shone yet another blistering and unwanted spotlight on South Beach, which had been dealing with unruly crowds and a heavy-handed response from police.
Collier’s arrest report said he confessed to giving Englehardt a green pill and claimed they sexually assaulted her in the hotel room even as she lay unconscious, before stealing her cellphone and credit cards.
Almost a month ago, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner determined the pills ingested by Englehardt were fentanyl that was “ingested and rapidly fatal.” Her alcohol level at the time of her death hovered near 2.0, almost three times the legal limit. The medical examiner also said asphyxia may have played a role in her death.
Little was known about Riley before Tuesday’s indictment. His Facebook page shows pictures of him and friends partying on South Beach. One caption reads: “Anywhere I go imma live it up.”
The last post was on March 16, four days before his death.