Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fifth Person Is Charged In Taylor Case

Thursday, May 15, 2008; E02

A fifth person has been charged in connection with the shooting death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, a spokesman in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said yesterday.

Timothy Brown, 16, of Fort Myers, Fla., has been charged with first-degree felony murder and armed burglary of an occupied dwelling, according to Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the state attorney's office. Brown was arrested Tuesday and booked into a Lee County jail. It is unclear when he will arrive in Miami. No initial court appearance has yet been set.

Taylor, 24, died Nov. 27 after surprising intruders in his home the night before.

Four other men -- Eric Rivera Jr., 18; Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 19; Jason Scott Mitchell, 20; and Venjah K. Hunte, 20 -- were indicted by a Miami-Dade County grand jury last year on the same charges and are scheduled to go to trial Aug. 25. All four were arrested within days of Taylor's death.

In a sworn statement to the police, one of the defendants, Rivera, said that five people, not four, drove together from Fort Myers to Taylor's house near Miami on the night of the break-in.

After returning to Fort Myers, "all five of us" burned "clothes and shirts and gloves" so "nobody can find out who did it," Rivera told police, according to his signed statement dated Nov. 30.

"It's always been the belief of the police that there were one or more other suspects involved," said Richard Sharpstein, the attorney representing Taylor's family. "The family is thankful that the police have been dogged in their pursuit of all the individuals so that all the individuals responsible for Sean's death can all meet hard justice."

Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty, Griffith said. Rivera, the alleged gunman in the case, was 17 at the time of Taylor's death. Under Florida law, juveniles cannot face the death penalty.

-- Amy Shipley and Jason La Canfora

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