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Attorney: Redskins' Taylor won't plead to felony

MIAMI (April 4, 2006) -- Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor will not accept a plea deal that could keep him out of prison in an assault case because it would require him to admit to a felony, his attorney said.

"When a man is not guilty, that option is not attractive," said Richard Sharpstein, one of Taylor's three lawyers.

Unless a last-minute deal is reached, trial is scheduled to begin in the case April 10 in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

The 23-year-old Taylor faces up to 46 years in prison if convicted on three aggravated assault charges and one misdemeanor battery charge stemming from a June 1 armed confrontation with a group of people in a dispute over all-terrain vehicles that Taylor owns. Taylor has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail.

If Taylor is convicted, the felony assault charges carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years each. Prosecutors talked with Taylor's lawyers about a plea deal involving a sentence of probation, but insisted on a felony plea because a firearm was involved.

Taylor's lawyers failed in a bid to get the charges dismissed. They argued prosecutors failed to disclose information about the criminal histories of the alleged victims in the case that might help Taylor's defense. But Circuit Judge Mary Barzee rejected their dismissal motion.

Taylor, a former star at the University of Miami, signed a seven-year contract with the Redskins in 2004. He has six interceptions and 120 tackles in his two NFL seasons, but also has had more than his share of trouble.

Taylor has been fined seven times during his pro career for late hits and other infractions, most recently for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman during a playoff game in January. He also was fined for skipping a mandatory rookie symposium.

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