Death Penalty Off Table in Taylor Case

The four men charged with the first-degree murder and armed burglary of former Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor won't face the death penalty.

Miami-Dade County prosecutor Reid Rubin said in a letter to lawyers for the suspects — Jason Scott Mitchell, Eric Rivera Jr., Venjah Hunte and Charles Wardlow — that the death penalty would be waived. Instead, the four will face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

The story was first reported by the Fort Myers News Press and the Naples Daily News on Sunday night.

Hunte's lawyer, Michael Hornung, said he learned of the decision by prosecutors late Friday.

"They would have had to show it was premeditated," Hornung said. "I believe that it's appropriate that they waive the death penalty."

The current theory of the crime, that Rivera was the alleged shooter, likely prevented prosecutors from seeking the death penalty since Rivera was 17 and a minor at the time of the shooting. Minors are ineligible for the death penalty.

"The fact that the prosecution won't seek the death penalty has been a foregone conclusion," Taylor family spokesman Richard Sharpstein told the Fort Myers News Press. "The family is still supporting the prosecutors and looking for justice to be done."

Taylor, an All-Pro safety, died of massive blood loss a day after he was shot at his Miami-area home during a botched robbery.

The trial for all four defendants is scheduled to begin Aug. 25.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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