Judge sched­ules trial date for Vick

Trial date re­sult of two Vir­ginia charges

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Larry O’Dell

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.”

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