Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sean Taylor Murder Suspect Cops A Plea

Venjah Hunte Will Serve 29 Years

Trial Is Set For August 25th

MIAMI (CBS4) ― A Ft. Myers man accused in the murder of Washington Redskins' star Sean Taylor has accepted a deal from prosecutors.

In exchange for pleading guilty to second degree murder and burglary charges, 20-year old Venjah Hunte will serve 29 years in prison and cooperate with prosecutors.

Hunte allegedly drove the men from Ft. Myers to Palmetto Bay in November, 2007, to rob Taylor's home. It was during that botched robbery, that one of the suspects, Rivera, shot Taylor in the groin. Taylor died a day later at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His girlfriend and baby daughter, who were in the house at the time of the shooting, were not hurt.

Hunte's defense attorney said his client actually pleaded guilty on Friday but prosecutors requested that the plea agreement be sealed because investigators were pursuing the fifth suspect.

Wednesday, 16-year-old Timothy Brown was charged with first-degree murder and armed burglary of an occupied dwelling.

Brown, who's a relative of suspect Charles Wardlow, allegedly travelled with Wardlow, Jason Scott Mitchell, Eric Rivera Jr. and Hunte the night they drove over from the west coast to commit the burglary.

Brown is currently jailed in Lee County awaiting extradition to Miami.

Last week, prosecutors waived the possibility of a death sentence since the suspected shooter, Rivera, was 17-years old at the time of the incident. Florida law prohibits the death penalty in cases where the shooter is a juvenile even if co-defendants are not minors.

In April, Miami Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy denied a bail request made by the 20-year-old Mitchell whose had appealed to the judge to let her son out pending trial. Murphy however ruled that Mitchell was likely to flee prosecution and might commit more crimes if released.

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