4 Charged With Murder In Taylor's Death

Safety Sean Taylor #21 of the Washington Redskins looks on while taking on the Minnesota Vikings during the first Monday Night Football game of the season on September 11, 2006 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The Vikings won 19-16. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Jamie Squire
All four off the suspects in the shooting death of NFL star Sean Taylor are now charged with unpremeditated murder. Three of the suspects charged in the killing of the Washington Redskins star appeared in court by videoconference Saturday, with authorities and two of their lawyers saying that at least some of them have confessed.

A lawyer for one of the suspect tells The News-Press of Fort Myers that he doesn't expect the case to be long or drawn out because of confessions. And he says his client is remorseful about the situation.

Three of the four suspects - Charles Wardlow, Eric Rivera and Venjah Hunte - have been denied bond. All four suspects are charged with unpremeditated murder in Taylor's death, a killing police said was unplanned and arose out of a burglary at the player's home. The fourth suspect, Jason Mitchell, has yet to make a court appearance.

Miami-Dade County police Director Robert Parker said the suspects didn't expect Taylor to be home when they broke in early Monday, but the Redskins safety was recuperating from a knee injury and had returned from Washington. When Taylor surprised them, he was shot.

"They were certainly not looking to go there and kill anyone," Parker said. "They were expecting a residence that was not occupied. So murder or shooting someone was not their initial motive."

Authorities said they had more than one confession, but Parker would not elaborate.

The four were arrested Friday in southwest Florida, about 100 miles from Miami.

Wilbur Smith, the attorney representing Rivera, said Saturday he expected a speedy resolution.

"Don't expect this to be a long, drawn-out thing," he told The News-Press of Fort Myers. "Because there are confessions, I believe this will be quickly resolved."

Smith said while some media reports have pegged his client as the one who pulled the trigger, he had not yet spoken extensively with the suspect to determine if that's true. He said his client was remorseful.

"It's an indescribable tragedy for the Taylor family, and it's a tragedy for the families of these other young men because their lives are down the tube," Smith said.

John Evans, the attorney representing Wardlow, said it's likely all four suspects will be transported to Miami on Sunday. He said his client was reflecting on the gravity of the charges he faces.

"My client has not, I don't think, come to terms with what is being alleged," Evans told the AP on Saturday. "He's in a position, dressed in the orange jumpsuit over there in the county jail, thinking about his life and thinking about his future. You can only imagine the things going through his mind now."

The four suspects all have prior arrests, according to Lee County Sheriff's Office records.

Wardlow, 18, was arrested twice for selling marijuana and once for grand theft of a vehicle. Rivera, 17, has been arrested in October for trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine, and he previously was behind bars for altering the identification number on a firearm.

Hunte, 20, was arrested previously this year on drug and trespassing charges. And Mitchell, 19, has been arrested twice, most recently in October on charges of driving with a suspended license and violation of probation.