Tuesday, December 4, 2007

3 Taylor suspects ordered held


The four men being held in connection with the slaying of pro football player Sean Taylor were all indicted by a Miami-Dade grand jury Tuesday afternoon on charges of first degree murder.

Three of the four suspects were in court Tuesday morning for their ''first appearance hearing,'' in which a judge checks that they are being legally held and determines bond.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge John W. Thornton, Jr., ordered all three held without bond Tuesday.

Eric Rivera, 17, the fourth suspect and the one police believe was the shooter, was still being transported from Lee County, where all four were arrested on Friday.

Taylor, a Washington Redskins defensive back and former star at the University of Miami, was shot and killed during an apparent burglary attempt last week.

The first degree murder charge can mean the death penalty, but the state attorney's office hasn't made that decision yet. Rivera is precluded from being sentenced to death because he is a juvenile and there is case law that makes it difficult to seek the death penalty for any members of a group if the actual shooter isn't sentenced to death.

After Tuesday morning's hearing, attorneys for Rivera and two of the three men who appeared in court gave brief statements, each saying their clients were distraught and remorseful.

''He's very upset and very scared,'' said Michael Hornung, attorney for Venjah K. Hunte. ``When you're at a place and you hear two gunshots and you didn't even know anyone brought a gun, you're going to be scared.''

Hornung said Hunte was in the car the night of the burglary, but that he had no idea that someone else in the car had a gun or whose house they were planning to burglarize.

He made it clear his client wants a deal.

''He's cooperating with the state,'' he said. ``He's looking to see what can be done with his involvement.''

Landon Miller, attorney for Jason Mitchell, said his client is also upset and scared.

''He's upset; this was not something that was planned,'' Miller said. ``It was not anybody's intention to go in there and pull a gun.''

Miller confirmed police have a fifth suspect who hasn't been arrested yet.

''We suspect the fifth suspect is cooperating with law enforcement,'' Miller said.

Charles Wardlow's attorney declined to speak to reporters.

Rivera's attorney, Wilbur Smith, was also in court Tuesday, even though his client is still in Fort Myers awaiting transport to Miami-Dade. Smith said the boy's family was devastated by the murder charges.

''If your child is arrested and is facing life in prison, that's traumatic, horrific even,'' he said. ``Of course, getting killed is worse. All the families involved in this are devastated.''

No comments: