- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Regret hangs in each of Venjah Hunte’s neat cursive words spread over two and a half pages of notebook paper. 

Hunte, one of five men charged in connection with the killing of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor during a botched burglary five years ago, is sorry.

“To begin I would like to send my deepest apology to the family of Sean Taylor,” Hunte wrote in a letter to The Washington Times last month in response to several questions. “I know an apology won’t bring him back, but I hope one day they could find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

In the first public comments by one of the defendants, Hunte, 25, detailed his isolated life at the Metro West Detention Center in Miami, his hope to change and the consequences of a night he can’t escape.

Taylor’s half-sister, Monika Martin, declined to comment Wednesday. Phone and electronic messages to Taylor’s father, Pedro, and phone messages to his mother, Donna Junor, weren’t returned.

A spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s office declined comment, citing the gag order, in place since 2008, that bans attorneys, law enforcement and others connected to the case from discussing it with media.

Hunte pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary while armed in exchange for a 29-year sentence as part of a plea bargain in 2008. He later tried to withdraw the agreement, which called for two life sentences if he didn’t cooperate, claiming he didn’t understand the terms of the deal. Hunte stopped the effort in 2009.

The four other defendants — Timmy Lee Brown, Jason Scott Mitchell, Eric Rivera, Charles Wardlow — haven’t been tried after numerous attorney switches and repeated postponements. All are jailed without bond. The latest trial attempt is scheduled for April 15, 2013.

And as the Redskins prepare for Sunday’s playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field, their last playoff game came against the same team, one month and nine days after Taylor died.

“My thought or intentions weren’t to hurt him or noone [sic] else, let alone murder, it was something I thought would never happen,” Hunte wrote. “Even though I didn’t pull the trigger I still have to take responsibility for my actions. Period.”

Intruders kicked in the door of Taylor’s bedroom at 1:40 a.m. on Nov. 26, 2007, in his four-bedroom home in Palmetto Bay, Fla. One of them fired a handgun twice. A bullet hit Taylor’s right leg and pierced his femoral artery. He died 27 hours later.

Hunte has claimed he wasn’t inside the home. Police initially described Hunte as driving the four others from Fort Myers, Fla., to Taylor’s home.

“Back then, I was just existing, I wasn’t living life at all,” Hunte wrote, “I was just living the fast life, chasing fast money, doing things my way which would be the wrong way in the end.

“In the last five years, I’ve had to grow up and mature a lot. I no longer think about or want to indulge in the things I used to, it’s just not worth it to me anymore.”

A lengthy deposition from Hunte is among several documents from the case sealed by 11th Judicial Circuit Judge Dennis J. Murphy.

Hunte claimed to live in solitary confinement 23 hours each day because of the case’s high profile.

“I haven’t hug [sic] or kiss my family for almost 3 years,” Hunte wrote, “the closest I get to them is a glass window, but I have noone [sic] to blame but self.”

Hunte declined to address several items because of the ongoing case. As part of the plea agreement, he will testify against the four other defendants.

A message to Hunte’s attorney, Reginald Mathis, wasn’t returned.

As cursive writing wound toward the end, Hunte considered the future. He wants to write a book. He hopes better days are ahead.

“At this point I feel like if I ever want to be back in society, the change starts now,” Hunte wrote, “and that’s how I live from now on by surrounding myself with positive things at all times.”

• Nathan Fenno can be reached at nfenno@washingtontimes.com.

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