[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun May 11 18:21:58 CDT 2008
No death penalty for Sean Taylor murder suspects
Miami-Dade prosecutors have waived the death penalty against the 4
suspects accused of murdering former Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor.
Eric Rivera, 18, Venjah Hunte, 20 and Charles Wardlow, 18, all of Fort
Myers, and Jason Mitchell, 20, of Lehigh Acres, face charges of 1st-degree
murder and armed burglary.
They will still face the possibility of life in prison, but Assistant
State Attorney Reid Rubin sent notice to the defendants' attorneys late
Friday he won't be seeking to kill them for the alleged crimes, said
Hunte's attorney, Michael Hornung.
"They didn't leave Fort Myers with the intentions to shoot anyone or kill
anyone," Hornung said. "They were going to make sure that person would lie
down at gunpoint."
On Nov. 26, Miami-Dade police said, the 4 drove to Taylor's house. When
they arrived, they broke into the Washington Redskins safety's house
intending to burglarize it. But Taylor, 24, was at home with his wife and
child, recovering from a sprained right knee.
The former Pro Bowl safety was shot in the leg and died of blood loss the
According to Rivera's statement to investigators, 5 people drove to the
house that night in a rented SUV, but only 4 arrests have been made.
Rivera, who was implicated as the shooter according to a grand jury
indictment, was 17 at the time of the crime and wouldn't have been
eligible for the death penalty under Florida law.
That complicated the process for prosecutors, Hornung said.
"It has a bad appearance to it," he said of seeking death against the
non-shooters and not the alleged shooter.
Also according to the indictment, Mitchell was in the house wearing a mask
during the armed burglary. Other reports released to the public have
indicated the suspects used a 9 mm gun to shoot open a sliding glass door
at the house. Dive teams searched off Alligator Alley after the shooting,
but haven't found a weapon.
According to information previously released by police, Mitchell attended
a birthday party in September at Taylor's home. He stayed at the house for
several days, doing work around the house to prepare for the part and was
paid $300 in cash.
Mitchell said he saw Taylor give his sister, Sasha Johnson, $10,000 in a
paper bag as a present. Johnson was dating Wardlow's nephew at the time.
Investigators believe greed was motive for the defendants making the
three-hour drive to the East Coast.
All 4 defendants have an Aug. 25 trial date.
(source: The News-Press)
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