Trial of Three In Taylor Case Is Postponed

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The murder trial of three of the four men accused of killing Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was moved from early April to late August during a hearing yesterday morning in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

Attorneys for Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 19; Jason Scott Mitchell, 20; and Venjah K. Hunte, 20; told Judge Dennis J. Murphy they were not prepared to go to trial as scheduled on April 7 because of delays in receiving information from the prosecution.

Murphy rescheduled the trial date for Aug. 25. He also signed and distributed copies of a gag order barring public comment on the case and scheduled a status hearing for Aug. 15.

The trial of the fourth defendant, Eric Rivera Jr., 18, also is expected to be rescheduled when he appears in court Wednesday. Rivera's new attorney, Clinton J. Pitts of Miami, had a conflict and could not appear yesterday morning, according to Murphy.

The four men have been charged with first-degree felony murder and armed robbery in connection with the shooting death of Taylor, who died Nov. 27 after surprising intruders in his Miami area home the night before.

None of Taylor's family or close friends appeared in court yesterday morning. Mitchell and Hunte appeared wearing red jumpsuits and handcuffs. Wardlow wore a maroon jumpsuit and handcuffs. All spoke only to affirm their attorneys' requests for the continuance.

Murphy set an April 25 bond hearing for Mitchell in response to a motion two weeks ago filed by Mitchell's attorney, Landon Miller, and appointed a public defender to represent Wardlow, whose attorney, David Brener, resigned from the case because, he said yesterday, he had not been paid by Wardlow.

Murphy also set an April 28 deadline for the lead detective in the case, Juan Segovia, to file his report.

-- Amy Shipley

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