Accused Taylor Gunman Seeks Talks
Thursday, December 6, 2007; 2:53 AM
MIAMI -- An attorney for the 17-year-old accused gunman in the killing of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor wants to work with prosecutors to resolve the case.
Sawyer Smith, who along with his father Wilbur is representing Eric Rivera, said Wednesday his client was admitting no wrongdoing yet.
"When the State Attorney's Office is ready, we would like to sit down and begin discussion with them so we can move towards a resolution in the case that has the best interest of all parties in mind," Smith said. "We want to minimize the impact of case resolution on the Taylor family and find a result that's in the best interest of justice."
Smith added: "Plea negotiations are typical in criminal cases. However, we don't know when or if that will occur."
Circuit Judge John Thornton Jr. denied Rivera bail Wednesday in his brief appearance via videoconference in a Miami-Dade County courtroom. His three co-defendants were denied bail a day earlier.
All four _ Rivera; Charles Wardlow, 18; Jason Mitchell, 19; and Venjah Hunte, 20 _ have been charged with first-degree felony murder and armed burglary. Their arraignments are Dec. 21.
Richard Sharpstein, Taylor's former lawyer, said he expected them all eventually to be "severely punished."
Taylor died Nov. 27, a day after he was shot in the bedroom of his home. Police have said the 24-year-old player was a victim of a botched burglary.
Smith said he was happy Rivera had been moved to Miami and had his first appearance in court. He said he understood it most likely would be some time before prosecutors would speak with him.
"When they're ready and in a position to discuss this case with us we're looking forward to that day," Smith said.
Wardlow's attorney, David Brener, distanced his client's actions from those of Rivera and said he expected to go to trial.
"I believe that the acts of Mr. Rivera, who was the shooter of this case, constitute an independent act," Brener said Wednesday. "My client never contemplated that Mr. Rivera was going to arm himself or use lethal force against Mr. Taylor."
Smith said the defense attorneys in the case have a history of working together, but he said he understood the grand jury's identification of his client as the alleged gunman puts him in a unique position.
"The other boys may be in a position to separate themselves somewhat from our client," he said. "However, under the felony murder rule, if it can be shown that they're involved in it, if they're involved in the burglary, then it's not a defense that they were not the one that pulled the trigger."