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Lawyer for alleged gunman in Taylor case wants plea deal

MIAMI -- An attorney for the 17-year-old accused of fatally shooting Sean Taylor said Wednesday he would attempt to reach a plea deal with prosecutors in the Washington Redskins safety's death.

Sawyer Smith, who along with his father Wilbur is representing Eric Rivera, said while his client was admitting no wrongdoing yet, he was anxious to discuss the possibility of reaching an agreement with prosecutors.

"When the State Attorney's Office is ready, we would like to sit down and begin discussion with them so we can move towards a resolution in the case that has the best interest of all parties in mind," Smith said. "We want to minimize the impact of case resolution on the Taylor family and find a result that's in the best interest of justice."

Circuit Judge John Thornton Jr. denied Rivera bail on Wednesday in his brief appearance via videoconference in a Miami-Dade County courtroom. His three co-defendants were denied bail a day earlier.

All four -- Rivera; Charles Wardlow, 18; Jason Mitchell, 19; and Venjah Hunte, 20 -- have been charged with first-degree felony murder and armed burglary.

The 24-year-old Taylor died on Nov. 27, a day after he was shot in the bedroom of his home. Police have said he was a victim of a botched burglary.

Smith said he was happy Rivera had been moved to Miami and had his first appearance in court. He said he was anxious to begin talking with prosecutors but that he understood it would likely be some time before they are ready.

"When they're ready and in a position to discuss this case with us we're looking forward to that day," Smith said.

Meanwhile, Wardlow's attorney, David Brener, distanced his client's actions from those of Rivera and said Wednesday he expected to go to trial.

"I believe that the acts of Mr. Rivera, who was the shooter of this case, constitute an independent act," Brener said. "My client never contemplated that Mr. Rivera was going to arm himself or use lethal force against Mr. Taylor."

Smith said the defense attorneys in the case have a history of working together, but he said he understood the grand jury's identification of his client as the alleged gunman puts him in a unique position.

"The other boys may be in a position to separate themselves somewhat from our client," he said. "However, under the felony murder rule, if it can be shown that they're involved in it, if they're involved in the burglary, then it's not a defense that they were not the one that pulled the trigger."

The next legal steps for the suspects are their arraignments later this month.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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