- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The felony assault trial of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor — which hasn’t even begun yet — took another bizarre twist late yesterday afternoon when the case’s lead prosecutor stepped aside after Taylor’s defense team charged him with professional misconduct.

Michael Grieco, the assistant state attorney leading Taylor’s case, asked to be replaced because “he sees himself becoming the courtroom focus, rather than the individual charged with the criminal offense,” said a statement from Grieco’s supervisor, Miami-Dade (Fla.) State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

Yesterday morning, Taylor’s trial on three aggravated assault charges and one misdemeanor battery charge was moved from Monday to May7 by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mary Barzee after Taylor’s attorney, Richard Sharpstein, said he would seek dismissal of the charges because of “inappropriate and unethical” actions by Grieco. Sharpstein said the prosecutor had posted news articles about the Taylor case on a Web site that promotes his business as a Miami-area disc jockey.

“It’s obvious he’s exploiting his job as a prosecutor for private gain,” Sharpstein said. “It has clouded his view of justice.”

After being notified of Grieco’s exit, Sharpstein added, “Now we look forward to a fair and impartial prosecutor looking at this matter and doing the right thing, which is to dismiss this case.”

It marked the sixth delay in Taylor’s case, which originally was scheduled to begin last September, and Grieco’s departure could result in an even longer delay before the start of the trial.

Taylor faces a minimum of three years and a maximum of 15 years in prison on each of the three aggravated assault charges (and one year in prison for the misdemeanor). The state alleges that on June 1, 2005, Taylor pointed a gun at three persons in an attempt to reclaim an all-terrain vehicle.

Several continuances of the trial have been granted so Taylor could play for the Redskins and, more recently, because of a witness tampering claim and the Passover and Good Friday holiday.

Taylor has refused a deal in which he would receive a sentence of probation in return for a guilty felony plea.

Grieco’s page on MySpace.com was still available until yesterday afternoon, when it was replaced by a message saying, “this user has either cancelled their membership, or their account has been deleted.”

Rundle’s statement said Grieco’s Web site did not “compromise the integrity of the Sean Taylor case,” but Grieco did not delete messages and images sent to him by others.

The statement added: “The desire to smear a prosecutor and affect a potential jury pool is a reprehensible trial tactic.”

Before it was disabled, Sharpstein called some of the content posted by Grieco as “moderately pornographic.” The site included a biography of Grieco’s career and dozens of photos of young men and women along with messages about his work as a disc jockey.

Note: A source said Alabama outside linebacker DeMeco Ryans is expected to visit Redskin Park. Ryans, 6-foot-1 and 236 pounds, is projected by some as a late first-round pick. The Redskins’ first selection isn’t until No. 53.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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