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Vick's co-defendants head to court for new plea hearings

  • Story Highlights
  • Purnell Peace will appear in court Thursday and Quanis Phillips Friday
  • Another defendant Tony Taylor, 34, pleaded guilty July 30
  • Taylor is expected to cooperate with prosecutors as part of plea deal
  • Michael Vick has pleaded not guilty to charges of illegal dog fighting
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(CNN) -- Two men who initially pleaded not guilty to running an illegal dog fighting ring with NFL quarterback Michael Vick are set to appear in court later this week for new plea hearings, a sign they may be changing their plea.

NFL star Michael Vick after a court appearance last month.

Purnell Peace, 35, is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday and Quanis Phillips, 28, is scheduled for Friday.

The trial date for all three co-defendants is currently set for November 26 in Richmond, Virginia, where court documents say the dog fighting operation was located.

A fourth defendant, Tony Taylor, 34, struck a plea deal July 30 and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. His sentencing is scheduled for December 14 and could land him five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised probation.

All four of the men, including Vick, were charged on July 17 with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.

They all initially pleaded not guilty.

According to documents filed in court last month, Taylor said he and co-defendants, including Vick, decided to start a dogfighting venture in early 2001 and that Vick paid for the property in Smithfield, Virginia, used for the operations.

The four launched the venture, Bad Newz Kennels, in early 2002, Taylor said.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has barred Vick from playing with his team, the Atlanta Falcons, until the completion of an NFL investigation into the case. The league could suspend him for up to a year.

Vick, 27, is one of pro football's highest-profile and highest-paid players, signing a 10-year, $130 million contract with the Falcons in 2004. He was a standout at Virginia Tech and the first player chosen in the 2001 NFL draft. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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