Taylor details are revealed

MIAMI — Sean Taylor's generosity may have led to a botched robbery at his Miami home last year, according to defendant interrogations released Wednesday.

Jason Mitchell, one of four men charged in the Redskin star's murder, told Miami-Dade detectives that Taylor gave wads of cash — $10,000 each — to Taylor's brother and sister. The siblings, Sasha and Jamal Johnson, flashed the cash in front of their friends during Sasha's September birthday party.

"I was just like, 'That's a lot of money,'" Mitchell said to police Nov. 30, four days after the killing.

Mitchell, 20, also told detectives that Taylor gave him $300 — "in all 50s" — for helping mow Taylor's lawn before the party.

Two months later, Taylor, 24, was shot in the groin during an attempted home-invasion robbery. The former University of Miami standout died the next day.

Charged along with Mitchell are Eric Rivera Jr., 17; Venjah Hunte, 20; and Charles Wardlow, 18, all of the Fort Myers area. They have pleaded not guilty. A fifth suspect, who is not in custody, has not been identified by police.

Prosecutors released sworn statements Wednesday from Mitchell, Rivera and Hunte, but a judge ordered the transcripts redacted in many places. In January, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy issued a gag order that prevents parties in the case from talking with the media.

Most of what's left in the statements deals with the times before and after Taylor's killing. All three suspects spoke to investigators after waiving their Miranda rights.

Among other details revealed in their statements:

•The men said they drove from Fort Myers to South Florida in a black rental sport utility vehicle, driven by Rivera.

•Only Mitchell had previously met Taylor, but the others knew he was a professional football player.

•Mitchell said he considered turning himself in after he learned of Taylor's death, but did not. He gave no reason. He also said the group almost ran out of gas on the way back to Fort Myers but scraped together $2 in change to make it home.

•Hunte said the men went to a friend's house after they returned to Fort Myers but did not talk about what happened in Miami-Dade. "We just sat. We just chilled, trying to get (expletive) out of our minds . …"

•Rivera said "all five of us" burned their clothing. When a detective asked for a reason, Rivera replied: "Nobody can find out who did it."

Bucs safety to Lions

TAMPA — Safety Kalvin Pearson officially became a member of the Lions when the Bucs decided not to match a three-year, $3.5-million offer to the restricted free agent.

The Bucs had seven days to equal the Lions' contract, which included a $1.1-million signing bonus. The Bucs had tendered Pearson a one-year contract worth $927,000 Feb. 29.

Because Pearson was undrafted, the Bucs will not receive compensation.

Pearson's replacement may be on the way. It appears the Bucs are close to signing Patriots safety Eugene Wilson, who also could play cornerback.

BRONCOS: Ted Sundquist is no longer the general manager. In a brief statement, coach Mike Shana­han said it was time for the organization to look at new directions. Details were not released. Other members of management, including director of player personnel Jim Goodman and assistant general manager Jeff Goodman will have increased roles in football operations, while chief operating officer Joe Ellis will perform operational and administrative issues.

DOLPHINS: Kicker Dave Rayner signed a one-year contract. The three-year veteran, made 15 of 22 field goals for the Chiefs lastseason. He is 41-for-58 in his career. The Dolphins have Jay Feely, who was third in the league in field-goal accuracy last season, making 21 of 23. Rayner could make the team as a kickoff specialist.

Falcons: Quarterback Joey Harrington re-signed, one week after he was cut. He returns as the possible backup to Chris Redman, who also recently signed a two-year contract. Atlanta also plans to draft a quarterback.

GIANTS: Quarterback David Carr signed as an experienced backup to Eli Manning. Terms were not available. "I have a lot of calluses," Carr said. "I'm like an old carpenter. I've been through it.''

Packers: Linebacker Nick Barnett reached a plea bargain related to a June disturbance at a bar in Appleton, Wisc.. Barnett's attorney Avi Berk says Barnett has pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct in a deferred prosecution agreement. Berk said the charge relates to knocking drinks out of someone's hands and breaking a cell phone in an incident involved Barnett's then-girlfriend and her twin sister.

Raiders: Free agent Drew Carter, who last season set career highs with 38 catches for 517 yards and four touchdowns for the Panthers, agreed to terms.

Steelers: Free-agent linebacker Keyaron Fox signed a one-year deal. He's expected to be a backup and play on special teams, his role with the Chiefs.

TITANS: Receiver Justin McCareins agreed to terms, returning to the team that drafted him in the fourth round in 2004. The Titans traded him to the Jets in 2004. McCareins started each game his first two seasons with New York but totaled only 13 starts over the past two seasons with 42 combined catches. He was cut this month.

SCOUTS WATCH GATLIN: Olympic sprint champion Justin Gatlin showed off his skills to NFL scouts during a pro timing day in Knoxville, Tenn. Gatlin, the Olympic 100-meter gold medalist, is appealing a four-year ban for doping violations.

PORCHER SENTENCING: Former Lions defensive end Robert Porcher will be sentenced April 3 on a charge that he assaulted his ex-wife. Porcher pleaded no contest to the charge.

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

Taylor details are revealed 03/13/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 3:37pm]

    

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