4 Pleaded Not Guilty In Killing of Taylor

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2007

MIAMI, Dec. 19 -- The four men accused of killing Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor entered written not-guilty pleas in Miami-Dade state court last week, according to an official at the Miami-Dade state attorney's office.

Those filings, however, were formalities, according to one of the attorneys on the case, and all of the defendants are required to appear in court at Friday's arraignment.

"When there is the potential for the death penalty, the defendants need to be present for all parts of the proceedings," said Michael Hornung, the attorney for Venjah K. Hunte, 20.

Hunte; Eric Rivera Jr., 17; Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 18; and Jason Scott Mitchell, 19; were charged with first-degree felony murder and armed burglary in connection with Taylor's death late last month. Police said Taylor was shot in the upper thigh after surprising the burglars in his Miami area home.

Hunte intends to meet with prosecutors in the case Thursday to discuss a possible plea deal, Hornung said.

"He is on board to cooperate and give any assistance that is necessary," Hornung said.

Hornung said all state court defendants are required to file their not-guilty pleas, notice of appearance and demand for discovery in advance of the arraignment.

The filings indicate to the judge that the defendants have legal representation, he said.

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