- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

From combined dispatches

A man who pleaded guilty to avoid a possible life sentence in the killing of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor now wants to back out of the deal, his attorney said Wednesday.

Venjah Hunte, 21, would have served 29 years under the deal, reached last May, in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors. Hunte’s attorney, Michael Hornung, said he disagrees with his client’s desire to withdraw his guilty plea, and that Hunte will appear in court Thursday in Miami to ask for a new court-appointed lawyer.

“There’s a difference in the philosophy going forward,” Hornung said. “His desire is to have an attorney appointed so that he can withdraw from his plea.”

Hornung wouldn’t discuss what led his client to change his mind, citing confidentiality. He said his recommendation was to take the plea deal rather than the life sentence four co-defendants face if convicted.

“We have irreconcilable differences,” he said.

BROWNS: Wide receiver Donte Stallworth was charged with killing a pedestrian last month while driving drunk after a night out at a swank Miami nightspot.

An arrest warrant charging Stallworth, 28, with DUI manslaughter was filed in the March 14 accident that killed 59-year-old Mario Reyes. If convicted, Stallworth would face as many as 15 years in prison.

Stallworth’s blood-alcohol level after the crash was 0.126, well above Florida’s legal limit of 0.08, according to results of a blood test. Stallworth will also be charged with DUI, which carries a possible six-month sentence plus fines and community service for first offenders.

“Whenever a deadly accident occurs and a driver is impaired, families suffer,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. “I can only repeat this message over and over: If you are going to drink, don’t drive.”

Stallworth, who is expected to surrender in court Thursday, released a statement last month saying he was “grief-stricken” over the accident. Prosecutors said they will ask that he be released on $200,000 bail.

TEXANS: The police officer who pulled out his gun and threatened an NFL player with jail instead of allowing him inside a hospital where his mother-in-law was dying resigned.

Officer Robert Powell had been placed on paid leave pending an investigation of the March 18 incident.

“I made this decision in the hope that my resignation will allow the Dallas Police Department, my fellow officers and the citizens of Dallas to better reflect on this experience, learn from the mistakes made, and move forward,” Powell said in a statement.

He had stopped running back Ryan Moats‘ SUV outside Baylor Regional Medical Center in suburban Plano after the vehicle rolled through a red light.

The officer pulled out his gun and threatened Moats with jail as the player and his family pleaded to be allowed to go inside the hospital. Powell continued writing Moats a ticket and lecturing him even after a fellow officer confirmed that Moats’ mother-in-law was dying.

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