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Four Arrested in Taylor Slaying
The arrests came four days after Taylor, 24, was fatally shot in his upper thigh after he and his girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, were awakened by noise in the living room of Taylor's $900,000 house in an upscale section of Miami-Dade County. When the shooter kicked in the bedroom door -- perhaps in search of the safe in Taylor's bedroom -- he fired two shots. One struck a wall and one pierced Taylor's femoral artery.
Taylor died Tuesday from his wounds.
The four men were transported to the Lee County Jail on Friday night. Formal charges will be announced after the Miami state attorney's office reviews the case, a Miami-Dade police spokesman said.
All four men have criminal histories, according to public records. Rivera was charged in August with felony possession of a firearm and removing a serial number from a firearm and in October with felony cocaine and amphetamines trafficking. Wardlow was arrested three times in 2005-06, twice on drug charges and once for felony grand theft. Mitchell was charged with disturbing the peace in 2004. Hunte was arrested on drug possession and trespassing charges in August.
The Miami-Dade police announced the arrests after picking up three of the men in Lee County early Friday and questioning them throughout the day at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Fort Myers. A person carrying a court reporter's typewriter could be seen coming and going. Police later picked up a fourth, and Parker said other arrests could be made.
The family of one of the accused -- Mitchell -- visited the FDLE regional headquarters in Fort Myers and his grandmother told reporters there that her grandson was home the night of the shooting.
Sharpstein said the arrests proved that Taylor had no involvement in incidents that led to his death. Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antrel Rolle, a childhood friend of Taylor's, and others had speculated that Taylor had been hunted down by enemies.
"People always said Sean's life led him to this, saying he was violent," Sharpstein said. "But if anything here his openness and generosity led to this crime, which is shocking and horrific. I said all along it was a burglary and it was planned. There are 17-, 19-, 21-year-old pathetic criminal wannabes and they carry a gun like every other dime-a-dozen jerk in the streets, and they happen to come upon someone they don't expect to be there and they fire the gun and run like cowards.
"This is a shame, but it's not over and this will be of no solace to the family. If anything it will only make it harder to swallow."
The accused all hail from the Fort Myers area, a place where youth football is big. At least two of the suspects had football connections, and possibly aspirations, just as Taylor did.
Rivera's father, also Eric Rivera, is president of the Greater Fort Myers Junior Football Association. The association's Web site boasts of NFL stars who come from the area.
"That's my son," the father said last night. "This isn't a good time to talk right now."