Prosecutor Resigns From Taylor Case
Thursday, April 13, 2006
MIAMI, April 12 -- The lead prosecutor in the felony assault case against Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor resigned from the case on Wednesday, hours after the defense alleged he was using it to promote his side career as a Miami Beach disc jockey.
On a wild day in which Taylor's trial, scheduled to start Monday, was delayed for the sixth time, assistant state attorney Michael Grieco, 30, shut down a personal Web site detailing his DJ activities and relinquished his role as lead prosecutor even while his superiors accused Taylor's lawyers of a smear campaign.
"The desire to smear a prosecutor and affect a jury pool is a reprehensible trial tactic," said a statement from the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
The statement said Grieco resigned voluntarily to ensure the case would proceed. A pretrial hearing is set for May 8. A new prosecutor was not announced.
Richard Sharpstein, one of Taylor's attorneys, said he would continue with plans to file a motion to dismiss the case next week on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct, charging that Grieco's "fingerprints are still on the case."
Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft from the University of Miami, faces three counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon and a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from an altercation in Miami last summer over two all-terrain vehicles Taylor believes were stolen from him. Each felony charge against Taylor, who was arrested June 4, carries a mandatory three-year minimum sentence.
Sharpstein said Grieco's Web site, which as of Tuesday night contained profane language, erotic photographs and numerous messages from people claiming to have partied with Grieco, inappropriately provided links to media coverage of the Taylor case. Those links, Sharpstein said, demonstrated Grieco's desire to use the Taylor case "for his personal gain and publicity."
The Web site was dramatically altered by early Wednesday afternoon and expunged a few hours later. Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade state attorney's office, said in the statement that nothing on the site compromised the integrity of the case and that "unfortunately" Grieco had not deleted messages and images sent to him at the Web site.
"I voluntarily stepped down from the case because I want the case to go forward," Grieco said when reached on his cellphone. "I don't want any allegations against me, as baseless as these are, to have any impact on the viability of this case or to cloud the fact that this case should go forward."
Before it was deleted, the MySpace.com site noted that Grieco received his undergraduate degree from American University and his law degree from the University of Miami.
Sharpstein said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mary Barzee could opt to rule on the motion for dismissal at an unrelated pretrial hearing set for May 3 or schedule another hearing. Barzee recently rejected a prior motion by the defense to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct.
Taylor has been among the Redskins' top defensive players in his first two seasons, but he also has been plagued by problems, including seven fines from the league for various infractions.
La Canfora contributed to this report from Washington.