Elfin: Sean Taylor’s Alleged Killers Have Postponed Trial For 4 Years
Sometimes the wheels of justice turn slower than Albert Haynesworth attempting to pass a conditioning test.
While it took just four days for Miami-Dade County police to arrest four suspects in the shooting death of Redskins Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor in November 2007, three of them who were supposed to finally begin the trial process on Monday (with a fifth man who was arrested later) have had their days in court pushed back at least to July 12, and probably to the fall, because the new attorney for alleged shooter Eric Rivera has only been on the case for a month.
Give us a break! This is the sixth postponement of the trial, which was first scheduled for April 2008 when Barack Obama had yet to clinch his first Democratic nomination for President and neither Robert Griffin III nor John Wall had yet to suit up for a college game.
The fourth original suspect, Venjah Hunte, has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against the current defendants: Rivera, Timmy Lee Brown, Jason Scott Mitchell and Charles K. Wardlow. All face charges of first-degree murder and armed burglary and could face life sentences if convicted. Mitchell and Rivera were juveniles at the time of their arrests.
Taylor was drafted fifth overall by the Redskins out of the University of Miami on April 26, 2004. He died three years, seven months and a day later at the age of 24. Those accused in his death have been averting justice for more than four years.
PHOTOS: SEAN TAYLOR’S CAREER
Since Taylor was shot to death in his South Florida home, where he had spent that Thanksgiving weekend with his family while sidelined with a sprained knee, major Redskins characters Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb and Jim Zorn have all come and gone in Ashburn.
The Redskins have changed coaches and defensive coordinators twice, built an indoor practice facility, and gone 27-43, including the 4-0 run to the playoffs that followed Taylor’s funeral which the organization attended en masse. Washington was 27-34, including its only playoff victory of the past dozen seasons, when he was part of the team.
Fellow safety Reed Doughty is the only remaining Redskins defensive back who played with Taylor while defensive end Kedric Golston, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, receiver Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley are the only other players on the Washington roster who were his teammates (linebacker London Fletcher remains unsigned as does cornerback Byron Westbrook, who was on the practice squad back then). Special Teams coordinator Danny Smith is the only member of the coaching staff still on hand.
Of course, Redskins owner Dan Snyder and the thousands of fans who prayed for Taylor in the hours between his being shot and his death want justice to be served.
However, as Miami-Dade County police director Robert Parker said after the suspects were arrested oh so long ago, “They were certainly not looking to go (to Taylor’s mansion) and kill anyone. They were expecting a residence that was not occupied. So murder or shooting someone was not their initial motive.”
Allegedly, the crime was hatched when Mitchell did yard work and other chores for Taylor. The Miami Herald reported that Wardlow’s cousin had dated Taylor’s half-sister. The suspects might have been the perpetrators of a break-in at Taylor’s home just nine days before the shooting that apparently was foiled by a security system.
“They targeted (Sean) for his wealth,” attorney Richard Sharpstein, a longtime Taylor friend, said after the arrests. “It makes his death even more pathetic (and) unnecessary. They are murderers. They should be treated like murderers and put in the Miami River and floated away.”
Sounds about right except that first-degree murder convictions for Brown, Mitchell, Rivera and Wardlow could be difficult to obtain since such charges usually require an element of premeditation which would seem to be lacking in this case.
But it’s years beyond time for Taylor’s family and friends and his Redskins family and fans to see some kind of justice done.
David Elfin began covering sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since last March.