- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

1:20 p.m.

Facing up to 46 years in prison, Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor swallowed his pride and pleaded guilty to a simple assault misdemeanor charge and a battery misdemeanor charge yesterday in Miami.

Taylor will not serve any jail time but will be on probation for 18 months. He also must perform community service.

The 23-year-old Taylor and his attorneys had rejected all talk of a deal since being arrested a year ago today in the wake of a confrontation in Miami that followed the claimed theft of two of his all-terrain vehicles.

Police reports from the confrontation said Taylor brandished a firearm at three men, an act that drew three felony assault counts, each of which could have put him in prison for a minimum of three years and a maximum of 15 years. Taylor also faced a year in prison on the simple battery misdemeanor charge.

However, the recent switch in prosecutors from Michael Grieco to Abe Laeser made all the difference. Taylor; his father, Pedro, the police chief in Florida City, Fla.; and his attorneys met with Laeser at the assistant states attorney’s office on Tuesday. Taylor’s team gathered again yesterday at attorney Richard Sharpstein’s office to consider the offer.

“The state offered a plea deal that couldn’t be resisted,” attorney Edward Carhart said. “Even though I didn’t consider the state to have a strong case, the jury could have believed the state’s witnesses. With a mandatory three-year sentence, Sean would have been a convicted felon, and that would’ve meant the end of his football career.”

Yet, Carhart said Taylor, who has maintained his innocence throughout the past year, rejected the offer at first.

“Sean turned it down and walked out of the office,” Carhart said. “His father went and talked to him, and Sean came back and accepted the deal. Sean wants to get on with his life.”

In the courtroom today, Taylor told Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Leonard Glick that the plea was “a hard pill for me to swallow” because “this is not something I think I’m guilty of.”

However, Taylor added: “I believe it’s in my best interest to accept this plea.”

Under the terms of the deal, Taylor will speak at 10 schools in Dade County, Fla., about the importance of self-control, discipline and staying in school and will give $1,000 to a scholarship for each school.

The plea also is a relief to the Redskins, who endured seven continuances of Taylor’s trial, which originally was scheduled for Sept. 12, the day after the 2005 season opener.

The fifth pick in the 2004 draft, Taylor has been embroiled in controversy on and off the field but has earned raves from Washington’s coaching staff for his play and his desire.

• Associated Press contributed to this report.

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