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Jury convicts suspect in Sean Taylor murder trial


BY CURT ANDERSON
AP LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER

MIAMI (AP) -- A man identified by prosecutors as the greedy organizer of a bungled 2007 Miami-area burglary that ended with the fatal shooting of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor was convicted Tuesday of murder and burglary, and immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole.

A 12-person jury deliberated nearly four hours before finding Jason Mitchell, 25, guilty of first-degree felony murder and armed burglary. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy swiftly imposed the mandatory life sentence for murder, plus 40 more years for the burglary conviction.

Although trial testimony showed Mitchell did not fire the fatal shot, prosecutors say he is equally responsible for the slaying under the law.

Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin said Mitchell hatched the plot that eventually involved five Fort Myers-area men after spending time at Taylor's home near Miami, where he saw the player giving friends and relatives thousands of dollars in cash. Rubin said Mitchell initially tried and failed to burglarize the home alone in mid-November 2007, returning with the group on Thanksgiving weekend to finish the job.

"It doesn't matter whether they planned to kill him (Taylor) or intended to kill him, he died as a result of that burglary and they are all responsible for it," Rubin told the 12-person jury in closing arguments. "At the center of it all was Jason Mitchell."

Mitchell did not testify in his own defense but he did confess to police in a sworn, videotaped statement. The man blamed for shooting Taylor, Eric Rivera Jr., was convicted last year of second-degree murder and sentenced to 57 years behind bars. Mitchell's lawyer, Robert Barrar, said Mitchell should be held responsible only for burglary, not for Rivera's actions.

"Sure Jason Mitchell was there. But Eric Rivera did it on his own, on a whim," Barrar said. "Jason Mitchell was not a part of any plan to kill anybody."

Mitchell showed no emotion when the verdict was read.

Taylor, 24, was shot in the upper thigh after confronting the group of burglars with a machete outside his bedroom door. The bullet severed Taylor's femoral artery, causing him to quickly bleed to death. In the bedroom when the shooting happened were Taylor's girlfriend and their infant daughter.

Police say the burglars thought Taylor would be out of town at a Redskins game, but he was home nursing a knee injury.

Aside from the confession, investigators found shoe prints at Taylor's house that matched Mitchell's sneakers and had cell phone evidence showing that Mitchell phoned another member of the group in the vicinity of the slaying that night.

Three other men were charged in the case and two are awaiting trial. Venjah Hunte, 25, previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary charges in a deal that calls for a 29-year prison sentence.

Taylor was a Pro Bowl safety who had starred at the University of Miami. A first-round Redskins draft pick in 2004, Taylor signed an $18 million contract with the team and was becoming one of the NFL's top defensive players when he was slain.

"He had everything to live for," Rubin said. "Sean Taylor was on top of the world."

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Rick June 10 2014 at 10:12 PM

Cannot say N but you can kill each other in record numbers and there is no real remorse or outrage, A race of animals

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12 replies
dredselw June 10 2014 at 9:05 PM

Why not the death penalty?

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
samsuitt dredselw June 11 2014 at 2:57 AM

It's Florida! Don't you get it? You don't get the chair in Florida if the body is black.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Mike Loewe dredselw June 11 2014 at 9:15 AM

What is felony murder (murder of a victim in the act of committing another crime) is generally life, hopefully without parole as happened here. The opinion of the criminal's lawyer that he should have been convicted on for the burglary is nonesense - committing a crime that results in another more serious crime gets you charged (and convicted) of both crimes. The court did a good job.

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junior June 10 2014 at 8:54 PM

7 years it took to take them to trial? WHY?

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1 reply
dredselw junior June 10 2014 at 9:06 PM

Lawyers were paid for seven years!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
napa422 June 10 2014 at 9:55 PM

THE SAVAGES ARE AT IT AGAIN

Flag Reply +6 rate up
3 replies
DTD Elect Const June 10 2014 at 9:34 PM

Why did the killer only get 57 years and the other guy got life? They all should be strapped into Old Sparky and jolted out of this earth.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
leonard c madsen DTD Elect Const June 11 2014 at 1:47 PM

Why not the drug cocktail you know the one that the criminal suffers tarribly for more that 20 minutes. If it is good enough for the victom, it should be good enough for the perpetrator.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
M DTD Elect Const June 12 2014 at 5:09 PM

He got a plea deal in exchange for confessing to his actions, and taking responsibility.
Whether that was out of remorse for what seems on the surface to have been a shooting that was not intended to kill, or on the "good advice" from his lawyer, **we** will never truly know.
That guilty plea saved the Florida taxpayers the expense of a trial, and also made it much harder for any others charged in the crime to claim they were not part of the crime, and the resulting death.

BTW, it is pretty clear these guys were not smart enough to be career criminals... After all, how hard is it to turn on a TV or radio and find out the (now) dead football player was not playing that game. If they were smarter, they could have read about it on the internet before the game started, and certainly before even approaching the house.

From the movie FOREST GUMP: Stupid is as stupid does.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
lov2elkhnt June 10 2014 at 9:37 PM

Well ain't that just great. Life without parol. The punk will be out in less than 10 on good behaviour. Bet on it. Libby strikes again. Just not quite enough libby violence to sway reality in those tiny mindsets. Just goes to show you.....keeping an open mind can cause all your brains to fall out!!! SOB should've got death.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
2 replies
jtfee lov2elkhnt June 10 2014 at 10:15 PM

"life without parole" "The punk will be out in less than 10 on good behavior." Have you been a conservative all your life?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
lov2elkhnt jtfee June 11 2014 at 12:17 AM

Guess you don't know the odds and saw the pretty party liberal line, huh? You bet I'm Conservative and have seen cons become better liars than parol boards are sociologists and prison shrinks are doctors. So what's your problem when this bright awesome athlete makes something of himself and gets snufed by pure inbred punks lookin for a few bucks to score some crack rock and hoes while leaving a community and race legacy dead in a pool of blood they could care less about? OK, lib up and correct the prob, you've only had forever to tell folks to get married before kids, stay married after kids and give those kids soul and love beyond understanding to grow up and become another legacy rather than a punk butthead who kills legacies.

Flag +5 rate up
max13722 lov2elkhnt June 11 2014 at 1:01 PM

There is no early release on life without parole genius. Also the judge in this case is one of your conservative buddies. But it's just like a conservative to blame everyone else.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
KAHUNA717 June 11 2014 at 10:15 AM

Throw away the key on these thugs! They should have gotten the Chair.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
sande90028 June 10 2014 at 11:42 PM

Looks like he could be the son or possibly the brother of someone I heard was in a high office in the United States

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1 reply
mrcbwalk sande90028 June 11 2014 at 2:09 PM

Just like the white boy who killed 7 people out in California.

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mojo working June 10 2014 at 10:06 PM

He was a gifted athlete with losers hanger -ons as friends . He was fun to watch . RIP ST !

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1 reply
lnyk mojo working June 11 2014 at 3:19 AM

Yes,and these THUGS saw him with money,and HATCHED the plot to steal Sean Taylor's MONEY!!!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
zettieny lnyk June 11 2014 at 9:12 AM

yes, Inyk, but what do we call all those guys who shoot up schools, court houses, stores, day care centers? Oh, I know ... we call them white.

Flag +1 rate up
gdaycomatose June 11 2014 at 12:01 AM

He got his due! Taylor hadn't even lived a 3rd of his life and at least 10 or more years as one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. Sad but greed is a curse that has consumed most of America.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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