MIAMI (CBS4) — A Miami judge has barred the media from covering a key evidence hearing in the case against four men accused in the 2007 killing of South Florida resident and former Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor.
Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy agreed Wednesday with defense attorneys who contend it’s the only way the four can get a fair trial. The motion to close the May 20 hearing was opposed by several news media organizations who claim there’s no evidence media coverage will taint a potential jury pool.
Charles Wardlow, Jason Scott Mitchell, Eric Rivera Jr. and Timothy Brown are accused of fatally shooting Taylor during a botched robbery at his Palmetto Bay home. A fifth man, Venjah Hunte, has pleaded guilty to murder and burglary charges and is expected to testify against the others.
Prosecutors claim Hunte, along with the other four defendants, drove from Fort Myers to rob Taylor’s home in November 2007. Prosecutors say it was during that botched robbery, that one of the suspects shot Taylor in the groin. Taylor died a day later at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His girlfriend and baby daughter, who were in the house at the time of the shooting, were not hurt. Police have said the group did not expect Taylor to be home because the Redskins had a game that weekend, but he was out with an injury.
Taylor was an All-Pro safety with the Redskins who also starred at the University of Miami.
Trial in the case is expected later this year. The four men each face potential life sentences if convicted. Prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty under U.S. Supreme Court rulings because the alleged triggerman, Rivera, was only 17 when the crime was committed.
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