Seven and a half years after the murder of NFL star and former Miami Hurricane Sean Taylor, justice is almost complete. Charles Wardlow, now just 25, today pleaded guilty to his part in the shocking death and was immediately sentenced to 30 years in prision. He is the fourth member of the Fort Myers-area group of friends who planned to rob Taylor's Palmetto Bay home and wound up killing him. The fifth still awaits trial.
Wardlow was only 18 at the time of the 2007 murder. Along with Venjah K. Hunte, Eric Rivera Jr., Timothy Brown, and Jason Scott Mitchell, Wardlow planned to rob Taylor's home after having attended a party there. The young men traveled from Fort Myers and believed that Taylor, then playing for the Washington Redskins, was out of town because it was football season. Taylor, it turned out, was at home nursing an injury.
After breaking into the home, the men were surprised to discover Taylor, his girlfriend, and their child inside. Rivera ended up shooting Taylor in the leg, and the bullet severed his femoral artery. Taylor was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital for surgery but died the next day.
Four of the men were arrested within days, and Brown was nabbed months later, but the cases did not move quickly through the court system. Originally, all of the men were to be tried in a single trial, but several delays moved the date further and further back. Eventually, Hunte reached a plea deal and was sentenced to 29 years in prison. Rivera, the gunman, was convicted in his own trial in 2013 and sentenced to 60 years behind bars. Murphy and Mitchell were both convicted in separate trials in 2014. Murphy received 57 and a half years, while Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison.
Wardlow now becomes the fourth man sentenced. His 30-year term was handed out immediately after he entered his guilty plea.
Brown, Wardlow's cousin who was just 16 at the time, still awaits trial.