By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor's defense attorney, Edward Carhart, said yesterday that his client will file a not-guilty plea for Friday's scheduled arraignment should prosecutors pursue two felony charges of assault with a firearm and a misdemeanor count of simple battery.
Carhart added that he hopes to spur the Miami-Dade state attorney's office to drop the charges by meeting with prosecutors today. The 6-foot-2, 232-pound safety will attend the meeting, Carhart said.
Carhart said that he will present evidence and witness accounts that prove that Taylor did not point a gun, as the police have said.
"I sincerely believe that Taylor is innocent of the charges," said Carhart, a well-known trial attorney, who has practiced law in Florida for the past 40 years, including 10 as a prosecutor. "At least one witness I interviewed told me Taylor did not have a gun and that there was no bat. And he will be a great witness who was in Taylor's car."
The police say Taylor pointed a gun at two men who he believed stole his two all-terrain vehicles after driving his 2005 Yukon Denali into a Miami neighborhood while being trailed by friends in another car. According to police reports, Taylor got out of his car and demanded the return of the ATVs. Although no shots were fired, police reports said, Taylor and his friends returned 10 minutes later. At that point, Taylor's co-defendant chased one person with a bat and Taylor punched the other person, police said.
Miami defendants in high-profile cases typically don't show up at their arraignment. Carhart said that he will file a written not-guilty plea on behalf of Taylor -- if the charges stick -- without attending the arraignment. In Florida, defense attorneys aren't required to be present when their client pleads not guilty, Carhart said.
Prosecutor Mike Grieco is overseeing the pre-filing conference, in which the state attorney's office decides whether there is enough evidence to try the case. According to a source involved in the process, Grieco won't make his decision until the meeting with Carhart and Taylor.
Redskins Note: The Redskins reportedly are among three teams interested in free safety Lance Schulters, who was released by the Tennessee Titans last Thursday for salary cap purposes. A source familiar with the situation confirmed the club's interest in Schulters -- once a premier safety -- but a signing wasn't imminent because of his asking price. Schulters's agent, Brian Levy, did not reply to a phone message.
On Saturday, Washington signed safety Tony Dixon, who started seven games for the Dallas Cowboys last season. But Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, told reporters that the club could add another defensive back. The Redskins had been hoping to bolster their secondary even before Taylor's legal issues.