Man Wants Plea Withdrawn in Sean Taylor Case

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Associated Press
Thursday, April 2, 2009

MIAMI, April 1 -- A man who pleaded guilty to avoid a possible life sentence in the killing of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor now wants to back out of the deal, his attorney said Wednesday.

Venjah K. Hunte, 21, would have served 29 years under the deal reached last May, in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors. Hunte's attorney, Michael Hornung, said he disagrees with his client's desire to withdraw his guilty plea, and that Hunte will appear in court Thursday in Miami to ask for a new court-appointed lawyer.

"There's a difference in the philosophy going forward," Hornung said. "His desire is to have an attorney appointed so that he can withdraw from his plea."

Hornung wouldn't discuss what led his client to change his mind, citing confidentiality rules. He said his recommendation was to take the plea deal rather than the life sentence four co-defendants face if convicted. "We have irreconcilable differences," he said.

Police said Taylor was a victim of a botched robbery when he was shot in his bedroom on Nov. 26, 2007, in the Miami suburb of Palmetto Bay. He died of massive blood loss a day later. The all-pro player was 24.

Also charged in the case are Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 19, Jason Scott Mitchell, 21, Timmy Lee Brown, 17, and the alleged gunman, Eric Rivera Jr., 19. All have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail.

The trial has been postponed several times and is scheduled to begin in June. Prosecutors could not immediately be reached to comment.


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