Judge schedules trial date for Vick
Trial date result of two Virginia charges
SUSSEX, Va. — Michael Vick is scheduled for a jury trial on state dogfighting charges April 2, but his lead attorney left open the possibility of a plea agreement.
The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge in August and voluntarily reported to jail last week, even though he will not be formally sentenced until Dec. 10.
He was not in a Sussex courtroom Tuesday when Surry County Circuit Judge Samuel Campbell set Vick’s trial date during a five-minute consultation with defense attorneys Billy Martin and Lawrence Woodward and prosecutor Gerald Poindexter.
As he left the courthouse, Martin was asked why Vick is fighting the state charges after pleading guilty in federal court.
“I can’t tell you we’re fighting them, I can’t tell you we’re taking a plea deal,” Martin said. “We’re going to look at this matter and give him some legal advice and that has not been decided yet.”
Vick, who is being held at a Warsaw, Va., jail, faces up to five years in prison for his federal conviction.
The two state charges — beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs, and engaging in or promoting dogfighting — also are punishable by up to five years in prison each.
Vick’s lawyers previ- ously had indicated they will fight the state charges on the grounds he can’t be convicted twice of the same crime. Woodward declined to discuss that strategy before Tuesday’s court proceedings.
Campbell also set trial dates of March 5 for codefendants Quanis L. Phillips and Purnell A. Peace and a May 7 trial for Tony Taylor.
Defense attorneys said they will have some pretrial motions, which they said can be considered together even though the men are being
box, an untouched newspaper lay with news of Taylor’s shooting.
Taylor’s death comes nearly a year after Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting following an argument at a Denver nightclub on Jan. 1. University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot to death in November 2006 several miles from Taylor’s home in an unsolved killing.
Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse’s hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins’ vice president of football operations. But family friend Richard Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being taken to the hospital, and he wasn’t sure how he had squeezed the nurse’s hand. He said Taylor’s father told him the death occurred about 5:30 a.m.
“Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something,” Sharpstein said.
Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft following an All-American season at Miami, was shot early Monday in the upper leg, damaging the key femoral artery and causing significant blood loss.
Trauma experts said a serious wound to this large artery, leading from the abdomen through the upper thigh, is among the most difficult to fix and can quickly drain the body of blood. Too long a blood loss prevents oxygen from reaching the brain and vital organs.
“According to a preliminary investigation, it appears that the victim was shot inside the home by an intruder,” MiamiDade County police said in a statement. “We do not have a subject description at this time.”
The attack came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor’s home. Officers were sent to the home about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor’s girlfriend called 911.
Sharpstein said Taylor’s girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor’s 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house, but neither she nor Taylor’s girlfriend was injured.
Police found signs of forced entry, but have not determined if they were caused Monday or during the previous burglary.
The shooting happened in the pale yellow house Taylor bought two years ago. In last week’s break-in, police said someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed.
Taylor starred as a running back and defensive back at Gulliver Prep in Miami. His father is police chief of Florida City.
A private man with a small inner circle, Taylor rarely gave interviews. But, behind the scenes, Taylor was described as personable and smart.
After Taylor was drafted, problems soon began. Taylor fired his agent, then skipped part of the NFL’s mandatory rookie symposium, drawing a $25,000 fine. Driving home late from a party during the season, he was pulled over and charged with drunken driving. The case was dismissed in court, but by then it had become a months-long distraction for the Redskins.
Taylor also was fined at least seven times for late hits, uniform violations and other infractions over his first three seasons, including a $17,000 penalty for spitting in the face of an opponent during a 2006 playoff game.
Taylor endured a yearlong legal battle after he was accused in 2005 of brandishing a gun at a man during a fight over allegedly stolen all-terrain vehicles near Taylor’s home. He eventually pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation.
Taylor said the end of the assault case was like “a gray cloud” being lifted. It was also around the time that his daughter was born, and teammates noticed a change.
On the field, Taylor’s play was often erratic. Assistant coach Gregg Williams frequently called Taylor the best athlete he’d ever coached, but nearly every big play was mitigated by a blown assignment. Taylor led the NFL in missed tackles in 2006 yet made the Pro Bowl because of his reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league.
This year, however, Taylor was allowed to play a true free safety position, using his speed and power to chase down passes and crush would-be receivers. His five interceptions tie for the league lead in the NFC, even though he missed the last two games because of a sprained knee.
“I just take this job very seriously,” Taylor said in a rare group interview during training camp. “It’s almost like, you play a kid’s game for a king’s ransom. And if you don’t take it serious enough, eventually one day you’re going to say, ‘Oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.’
“So I just say, ‘I’m healthy right now, I’m going into my fourth year, and why not do the best that I can?’ And that’s whatever it is, whether it’s eating right or training myself right, whether it’s studying harder, whatever I can do to better myself.”