Phoenix police arrest suspects in 2018 fatal hit-and-run of GCU student

Apr 8, 2021, 5:15 PM
Adrian Favela and Barringtina Mathis (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office photo)...
Adrian Favela and Barringtina Mathis (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office photo)
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office photo)

PHOENIX — On the three-year anniversary of a hit-and-run that killed a 21-year-old Grand Canyon University student, Phoenix police announced on Thursday the arrest of two suspects in the case.

Adrian Favela and Barringtina Mathis, both 29, were arrested and booked on Wednesday. Favela is facing second-degree murder and other felony charges, while Mathis was booked for obstructing a criminal investigation and tampering with evidence, according to police.

Taylor White was crossing the street at the intersection of 31st Avenue and Camelback Road in Phoenix while out on a jog with another person on April 8, 2018, when he was hit and killed by a white SUV that ran a red light traveling at a high rate of speed.

White was pronounced dead at the scene while the other jogger was unharmed.

The vehicle was found a week later, but authorities didn’t have enough pieces of the puzzle to make an arrest in the case – that was until Wednesday.

“For the last three years, detectives have collected evidence related to technology, digital and testimony that has given them probable cause to make two arrests,” Sgt. Mercedes Fortune of the Phoenix Police Department said at a press conference.

Phoenix police Lt. Lief Myers said authorities have always had their eye on Favela and Mathis. New advancements in technology over the past year in addition to a witness coming forward last week gave police enough to make a concrete case and apprehend the two suspects.

White’s mother and father said Wednesday’s arrests won’t bring back their son – a Colorado Springs, Colorado, native who was just a few weeks away from getting married.

“What a crazy day, for justice to finally be coming about today, the three-year anniversary,” White’s mother said at a press conference. “No one in this room orchestrated this, God orchestrated justice coming full circle today on the three-year anniversary of losing Taylor.”

“We are so grateful, it has been tough, this is every parent’s worst nightmare,” she added.

The two said they hope to become advocates on the issue of hit-and-runs, pushing for new tech to help identify suspects and impose tougher penalties.

“Families shouldn’t need to go through what we’ve gone through the last three years,” she said. “There’s a better way … we can lessen this, all of us working together.”

A leadership award has since been named after White at Grand Canyon University, honoring those who move mountains with a strong personality and even stronger faith, just like White did.

“Taylor was a man on a mission, ready to be a husband, an athletic trainer and go on countless adventures with his friends and family,” Chad Schlundt, GCU outdoor recreation manager, said. “We miss his presence and his contagious quest to have fun and have a good laugh.”

Myers said the new advancement in technology that aided in the arrest of Favela and Mathis will be used in future hit-and-run cases.

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Phoenix police arrest suspects in 2018 fatal hit-and-run of GCU student