Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Taylor scheduled to be in court Sept. 12
By Len Pasquarelli
Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor on Tuesday rejected a plea agreement in Miami that would have included a three-year prison term.
The second-year veteran, charged with felony assault and misdemeanor battery stemming from an alleged June 1 altercation, faces a maximum of 16 years in prison if convicted of both charges. Taylor is free to travel within the United States, and, thus, to report to the Redskins' training camp as he defends himself against the charges.
Players under contract are to report to camp July 31 with the first on-field practice set for the following afternoon.
The plea offer came during a hearing in the courtroom of Judge Mary Barzee in a short sesion during which Taylor did not speak. Miami-Dade assistant district attorney Mike Grieco said there was no latitude in the plea-bargain offer because the charges carry three years as the minimum sentence.
Grieco said that he did not object to the defense request for Taylor to be able to travel because he does not regard the former University of Miami star as a flight risk. "He is a national figure," Grieco said. "So I am not concerned."
Taylor's attorney, Edward Carhart, said his client never considered the plea deal. He reiterated that he expects Taylor to be exonerated. A conviction, and three years of jail time, would jeopardize Taylor's promising career.
Barzee confirmed a Sept. 12 trial date in the case, but Carhart almost certainly will ask that it be continued, likely until after the 2005 season. The Sept. 12 date comes just one day after the Redskins face the Chicago Bears in the regular-season opener.
In a separate courtroom on Tuesday, Charles Caughman, who was alleged to have been with Taylor on June and who also faces a felony assault charge, likewise refused a plea offer. Caughman would have had the felony charge either dropped or reduced in return for his cooperation with the prosecution. Such a deal would have forced him to testify against Taylor. Caughman has a trial date of Oct. 3.
Taylor, 22, was the fifth overall player chosen in the 2004 draft and was a starter in 13 games as a rookie, finishing with 89 tackles and four interceptions. He skipped all of the team's offseason program prior to the alleged June 1 incident, did not return any phone messages from head coach Joe Gibbs, and there were rumors that he was seeking to have his contract reworked.
After charges were filed, Gibbs excused Taylor from the remainder of the scheduled workouts, including a mandatory June mini-camp, but said he expected the free safety to be in training camp on time. Team officials have closely examined Taylor's seven-year, $18 million contract because they could seek repayment of some bonuses, or withhold payments due him, if he misses playing time because of a conviction.
The contract, which has a maximum value of $40 million with incentives, does include "default language" that would permit readjustments for time missed.
Taylor turned himself in June 4 following a three-day search for him. The alleged incident is said to have occurred when Taylor engaged in an argument over two vehicles he said were stolen from him. The incident has brought scrutiny from the league, and Taylor could fall under the purview of the NFL's personal conduct policy, which could bring a fine or suspension.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .