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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, December 03, 2007

The worst kinds of excuses

Over the past several days folks in and around Miami have been attending memorial services for murdered football player Sean Taylor.

In case you don't know, Taylor, a rising star with the Washington Redskins and a Miami native, was fatally shot in his Miami home last week, while Taylor's girlfriend and 1-year-old daughter cowered under the bed sheets. Taylor heard noises, armed himself with a machete he kept for protection and locked his bedroom door. But the cowards who caused his death, kicked in the door, shot him, and then fled. Taylor died in a hospital the next day.

Beyond the fact that an apparently innocent person was gunned down in his own home, the thing that disturbs me most about this case is how quickly everyone from the Miami-Dade County police director Robert Parker to the families of the suspects jumped before the microphones to suggest or say outright that the suspects weren't killers. Rather, they were burglars who got spooked and "accidentally" killed a man. Parker even said in one press conference that the suspects fired after they saw Taylor's machete. I know he didn't mean it this way, but Parker's comments almost made it sound like Taylor shared some of the "blame," 'cause he scared these guys by being home in the first place, and being armed with a blade.

Short of security video that recorded everything, we have to assume that Directer Parker is basing his comments on what the suspects said in their confessions. And the suspects' families? Well, how often do you see family members of violent crime suspects step up to the microphone and say "If he did it, he should get what's coming to him?" I can count on two fingers the number of times I've ever seen that. And this case wasn't one of those times.

Sorry, but I say they're wrong. They're all wrong. If these guys weren't planning to harm anyone why did they bring a gun to a burglary? This isn't meant to be funny, but you've heard the old adage about it being wise to not bring a knife to a gun fight? If I'm gonna break into someone's home I'm bringing lock-picking tools and whatever I might need to disable an alarm system. There's no point in bringing a gun unless I'm prepared to do something more than steal property.

What? Don't tell me you buy the protection argument. They wouldn't have needed a gun to "protect" themselves if they weren't trying to take off with O.P.P.

The fact that they were armed with a gun says at a minimum that the Taylor suspects were willing to threaten harm to someone else in order to get away with their crime. And since the gun had bullets in it they were obviously prepared to hurt someone in order to get away with their crime. For that reason alone, they are cold-hearted killers, and their families, the cops, and anyone else who wants to speculate at what these guys meant to do, need to stop making excuses for them.

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  • The pros don't even carry weapons with them b/c they know it raises the stakes if they get caught. Not that these guys were pros. One of them was dating his half-sister - the more that comes out teh less I buy the robbery thing. At the very least they weren't bothered at all by the idea of killing him. So now 5 young black men are ruined and 5 families are grieving and for what?

    By Blogger WNG, at 1:23 PM  

  • So sad.

    By Anonymous, at 1:31 PM  

  • These guys weren't pros they were just punks.

    Yes, the fact that they had the gun with them does mean that they brought it to use it in case they needed to. But, everybody with the Redskins and other family and friends of Taylor say that nobody knew Taylor was at home that night. And that does make some sense.

    I mean, unless you are a degenerate gambler or a fantasy football freak you probably didn't know that Taylor was inactive for the next game. You would have assumed that he was with the team in D.C.

    Of course what I'm waiting for is for all the people (Michael Wilbon, Jason Whitlock, Jay Mariotti among others) and all the rest of the sports media types who, without knowing ANY FACTS AT ALL basically declared that Taylor brought this on himself and that there was NO WAY THIS WAS RANDOM. Now that the facts don't jive with their knee-jerk reactions I wonder if they are going to apologize?

    Actually, we all know they won't. They'll just try to rationalize what they said and continue to blame Taylor, the victim of a senseless murder.

    By Blogger Jay, at 1:57 PM  

  • I disagree w/ one premise. *I* would bring a gun to a burglary knowing that in most states home owners are authorized to shoot invaders. However, you are dead right about the motive here. Had the motive been burglary, they would not have kicked down the door.

    The motive was not murder, however, given that the dude shot him (once?) in the leg, below the waist. I believe his intention may have been manslaughter to exact some sort of revenge short of killing Taylor.

    I don't recall the minutia, but I thought he had a beef w/ someone.

    By Blogger M@, at 4:08 PM  

  • Its a frikkin' shame what happened. There shouldn't be much more to this, unless the press wants to sensationalize it. Let the justice system process these people and everyone move on for the sake of Taylor's family.

    By Blogger Evil Spock, at 4:15 PM  

  • Exactly! Thats why possesion of a firearm during the comission of a felony carries such higher penalties.

    The prosecutors better not wuss out on this one.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 7:33 PM  

  • I think this is one place where the law gets it right. Although it may not have been the intent of the gunmen to murder Taylor, they intended to break into his house with a gun and use it if they felt it was "necessary". In my book (and hopefully in Florida courts) that's murder. Maybe not in the first degree, pre-meditated sense, but definitely murder that occurred in the commission of another felony. I think that's called felony murder. I say throw the book at them. Period.

    I watch WAY too much Law and Order.

    By Blogger Lex, at 9:40 PM  

  • This is a clear case of murder; you are spot on. They killed a man in his own home while they were committing a first class felony. These thugs deserve no quarter.

    By Blogger C.L. Jahn, at 1:30 AM  

  • J.B. recounts:

    "Taylor heard noises, armed himself with a machete he kept for protection and locked his bedroom door. But the cowards who caused his death, kicked in the door, shot him, and then fled. Taylor died in a hospital the next day."

    I've heard other accounts, but what it boils down to is a premeditated killing.

    A murder doesn't have to be planned out days in advance, it can be the outcome of a short-term consideration. Or so I hear.

    If Taylor sought refuge in his bedroom by locking the door, and someone kicked it in, guns ablazing, if I'm the prosecutor that's premeditation.

    With Taylor behind the bedroom door, the perps were not being threatened by Taylor or his machete.

    They could have fled.

    When they pursued him outside of harms way it was with the intent to kill, or they would have asked him about the silverware and other items of value, rather than shoot him in the dark and flee.

    Upon entering the room the perps had to assume that Taylor was armed in some fashion even if they learned of the machete after kicking in the door.

    They were prepared, in either case, to shoot him if trouble ensued.

    Here's another: We're told that Taylor surprised the perps. If they knew the house was empty, and that there would be no resistance to them entering, why would they bring a gun along for protection?

    They had presumably entered the house days earlier without interference. Shouldn't that have set their minds at ease.

    It doesn't add up.

    But for now, I'm going to reserve judgment until I see or hear more facts.

    By Anonymous before the mayflower, at 4:42 PM  

  • Whether one of those involved in this case had a "beef" with Taylor or not, is immaterial. They broke into his home and shot him and he died as a result of their actions. If the "beef" scenario is accurate, then people need to learn to curb their emotions, realizing then that taking another's life is not the way to handle things. And whether Taylor was shot accidentally or deliberately -the fact he died as a result of their actions is the issue to be addressed by the courts whether they will consider it murder or manslaughter and to what degree. I hope this doesn't end up a case that gets wheeled and dealed down to nothing though.

    By Blogger Jeni, at 6:40 PM  

  • Sort of off-topic -- but you mention that it sounded, based on Parker's comments, like Taylor shared the blame.

    I get the same sort of irate when I read about a wife-beater who kills his wife because she burned the eggs. You know -- if she just hadn't ruined breakfast, she would be alive! It's all her fault!

    Or the stepdaddies/boyfriends who swing the toddler against the wall and crush his skull because he wouldn't stop crying. Stupid kid caused his own death! If he had only been quiet, then he wouldn't have had to be killed.

    A murderer is someone who willfully takes the life of another. Period.

    By Blogger class-factotum, at 8:00 PM  

  • You are spot on.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 11:24 PM  

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