Sean Taylor was an American football player who was a free safety for the NFL’s Washington Redskins for four seasons, from 2004 to 2007. Before getting drafted to the NFL, Taylor played college football at the University of Miami as a highly respected member of the Hurricanes. Due to his fierce playing style, Taylor earned the nickname ‘Meast’ from his fellow players, who thought of him as ‘half-man, half-beast.’
On November 27, 2007 24-year-old Taylor died due to critical injuries from a gunshot wound. About a week earlier, on November 18, Taylor’s Miami home had been burglarized while he was away. Taylor’s mother went to the home to check on it, and after discovering it had been burglarized, called the police. According to police reports, the burglars had entered the home by prying open a window. The burglars went through a safe and desk located in Taylor’s bedroom, in addition to damaging an air conditioning unit. The police report did not specify if any items were missing from the home. Eight days later on November 26, at 1:45 AM, while recovering from a football injury, Taylor was shot in the upper leg by an armed intruder in his home. The bullet severed his femoral artery, creating a mortal wound. Taylor’s longtime girlfriend Jackie Garcia hid and waited for the intruder to leave before calling 911.
Taylor was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he underwent surgery. He emerged from surgery in a coma. Doctors suspected that due to blood loss, he may have experienced brain damage, and his heart stopped twice during surgery. Shortly after his surgery ended, Taylor died at about 3:30 AM.
On November 30, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Miami-Dade police detained four people for questioning in connection to Taylor’s death. All four men-Venjah K. Hunte, Eric Rivera, Jason Scott Mitchell, and Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow-were arrested and charged with felony second-degree murder, armed burglary, and home invasion robbery with a firearm or another deadly weapon. These charges can add up to a maximum sentence of life in prison.
On May 15, 2008, Venjah Hunte accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to 29 years in prison. However, a year later, he petitioned to withdraw his guilty plea.
After several postponed trial dates, Eric Rivera, the alleged gunman, began his trial on October 15, 2013. He was not eligible to receive the death penalty because he had been 17 at the time of Taylor’s death. On November 4, 2013, Rivera was found guilty of second degree murder and armed burglary. He received the recommendation made by the judge of 57 ½ years.
On June 10, 2014, Jason Scott Mitchell was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Charles Wardlow received 30 years in prison for 2nd degree murder and burglary assault.
A fifth suspect, Timmy Lee Brown, received a plea agreement, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.