Archive for Saturday, December 1, 2007

Four arrested in Taylor shooting case

December 1, 2007


— Police said two men and two juveniles arrested Friday in the shooting death of Washington Redskins player Sean Taylor went to his home intent on stealing, not killing.

The suspects didn't expect Taylor to be home, said Miami-Dade County police director Robert Parker, but Taylor was recuperating from a knee injury and had returned to Miami 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."

Police spokeswoman Linda O'Brien identified the four suspects as: Venjah K. Hunte, 20; Eric Rivera Jr., 17; Jason Scott Mitchell, 17; and Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 18. O'Brien said the charges for each had not yet been determined, but "we are talking murder and burglary."

The four were arrested Friday in southwest Florida, about 100 miles from Miami. They will be booked into the Lee County Jail and eventually will be returned to Miami, O'Brien said. She did not have any information on when they would appear in court, their hometowns or if they had attorneys.

The 24-year-old Pro Bowl safety died Tuesday, one day after being shot at his home in an affluent Miami suburb during what officials said appeared to be an attempted burglary.

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

"We're looking into whether or not one or more of the individuals had been at the residence before," Parker said.

Police have been investigating a possible link to a Nov. 17 break-in at Taylor's home, during which they said someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed.

The Miami Herald reported on its Web site that Mitchell and Wardlow had connections to Taylor. Mitchell cut Taylor's lawn and did other chores at the house, Mitchell's twin brother, Scottie, told the paper. Taylor's sister, Sasha Johnson, dates Wardlow's older cousin Christopher, and Scottie Mitchell told the paper the couple invited Jason Mitchell to Johnson's birthday party within the past two months.

A woman who identified herself as Jason Mitchell's mother told the Naples Daily News her son was at a birthday party at Sean Taylor's home a couple months ago. She also said her son was at home all week and last weekend.

"I don't know where he's at, I don't know why he's being held," she told the Naples paper. "No parent should see this happen to their child."

O'Brien would not confirm the reports when contacted by The Associated Press.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder released a statement late Friday acknowledging the arrests.

"This is another step, but not a conclusion, in a very personal and painful tragedy," he said. "I also want to thank everyone who has joined us in mourning the loss of Sean."


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