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Fourth suspect appears in court as Redskins pay Taylor tribute

  • Story Highlights
  • Fourth suspect "looked shocked" during court appearance, attorney says
  • Redskins pay tribute during Sunday's game; funeral Monday
  • Four men each face charge of felony first-degree murder
  • Police say they have more than one confession in the case
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FORT MYERS, Florida (CNN) -- A fourth man arrested in the shooting death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor appeared before a judge via video phone Sunday.

Jason Scott Mitchell, 19, like the other men charged in the NFL star's death, faces charges of felony first-degree murder, burglary with a firearm and home invasion robbery while armed, according to court documents.

Mitchell's lawyer, Sawyer Smith, said his client "looked shocked."

Mitchell initially waived his right to speak with an attorney and confessed to taking part in a robbery of Taylor's house, according to an affidavit.

Mitchell allegedly told police a gun was used in the robbery, but the court document did not identify a shooter.

The Redskins lost Sunday, 17-16, to the Buffalo Bills at home. It was the Redskins' first game since Taylor's death Tuesday, and the team wore Taylor's No. 21 on their helmets and jerseys. The Bills also wore No. 21 on their helmets.

The Redskins also observed a pre-game moment of silence and displayed the slain player's number in the east end zone at FedExField. Fans received towels bearing the No. 21.

A funeral is planned Monday at Florida International University in Miami.

Police said last week they don't think Taylor's alleged killers planned to murder him, but the charge of felony first-degree murder applies if someone is killed, even accidentally, during the commission of certain felonies.

Eric Rivera Jr., 17, Venjah K. Hunte, 20, and Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 18, appeared in court Saturday. Mitchell was processed too late to appear in court Saturday, officials said. All four suspects have been denied bond. Video Watch three of the suspects appear in court »

The suspects could be transported sometime Sunday to Miami, where they will be formally charged, for a first appearance hearing, Wardlow's lawyer, John Evans said.

Rivera appeared in a courtroom in Fort Myers, Florida, while Hunte and Wardlow appeared via video phone from jail.

Taylor, 24, a safety for the Washington Redskins, died a day after he was shot during an apparent burglary at his Miami home.

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Police have more than one confession in the case, according to Robert Parker, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Rivera's attorney, Wilbur Smith, said Saturday he "had been led to believe" that his client confessed, but wasn't sure after speaking to Rivera.

Asked about news reports alleging Rivera was the shooter, Smith said that he was aware of the stories, but that he had "not talked enough to Eric to find that out."

"The brief probable cause statement that we received did not indicate who was the shooter," he said.

Smith described his client as "stunned." Asked whether he showed any remorse, Smith said, "Oh yeah, you could see that in his eyes."

Evans said that despite a court affidavit alleging that his client confessed, he has not seen a transcript or heard any tape "about any confession from any of the four people who are currently charged."

The four men were expecting to find an unoccupied home, "so murder or shooting someone was not their initial motive," Parker said.

"They were certainly not looking to go there and kill anyone," he said. "Their obvious motive was to go there and steal the contents of the house."

The men knew Taylor lived at the house, said Parker, who added that additional arrests were possible.

A police official said officers are investigating whether one or more of the suspects knew members of Taylor's family.

At 1:45 a.m. Monday, Taylor's girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, called 911 and said someone had been shot.

Authorities have said she told police she was hiding under the bedding during the attack.

Garcia did not see what happened and could not provide a suspect description, Parker told reporters Wednesday.

Police said that Garcia and Taylor were awakened by noise in the living room, and that Taylor got up and locked the bedroom door. The door was kicked in and two shots were fired, one striking Taylor in the leg.

Garcia tried to call 911, and failing that, used her cell phone instead, police said. There was no evidence the line had been cut, Parker said Wednesday.


Taylor was home unexpectedly because of an injury, his former attorney, Richard Sharpstein, told reporters Tuesday. "I think he was surprised, or they were surprised to find him there," he said.

Taylor was regarded as one of the hardest-hitting players in the league. During his brief career, Taylor recorded 257 tackles, two sacks and seven interceptions. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's John Couwels contributed to this report.

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