Trial starts in slaying of Redskins’ Sean Taylor

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Police say two of the men charged had connections to Taylor: Jason Scott Mitchell had cut Taylor’s lawn and an older cousin of suspect Charles Wardlow had dated Taylor’s sister. Family members also said Mitchell had recently been at a birthday party at Taylor’s house, where Taylor was known to keep large amounts of cash.

Miami-Dade County’s former police director, Robert Parker, said the defendants were surprised to find Taylor home early that Monday morning.

“They were certainly not looking to go there and kill anyone,” Parker said. “They were expecting a residence that was not occupied.”

Authorities say they have obtained confessions from at least some of the suspects, all from the Fort Myers area, but pretrial hearings on whether those statements will be allowed in Rivera’s trial were closed by Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy. The judge also imposed a gag order on prosecutors and defense attorneys in hopes of limiting pretrial news media coverage that could make jury selection difficult.

The murder weapon has never been found. Prosecutors say it was thrown into the Everglades after the slaying while the group drove home across Alligator Alley.

There have already been at least seven previous trial dates set for Rivera. Cooley, for one, said it’s time for justice to be done.

“Breaking into someone’s home, into their personal safety blanket and shooting them in that environment is the most heinous, unthinkable crime that could have happened to a guy like Sean. It’s despicable,” Cooley said.

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AP Sports Writer Joseph White in Washington and AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer in Concord, N.C., contributed to this report.

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/miamicurt

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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