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Boy, 17, charged as adult in killing of NFL's Taylor

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  • NEW: 17-year-old alleged shooter appears in Miami courtroom
  • NEW: Eric Rivera Jr. will be tried as an adult
  • Three adult suspects in Sean Taylor slaying on suicide watch
  • Taylor died after being shot in home invasion last week
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Four suspects indicted on murder and burglary charges in the slaying of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor begin their journey through the courts on Wednesday.

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A grand jury identified Eric Rivera Jr. as the shooter in the death of NFL star Sean Taylor.

Court documents say the youngest is alleged to have fired the fatal shot.

He is identified as Eric Rivera Jr., 17. He appeared briefly on Wednesday morning before a judge in Miami, Florida.

Rivera has been indicted as an adult and Judge John Thornton found probable cause to support charges of first degree felony murder and burglary with assault or battery with a firearm.

Three other suspects -- Venjah K. Hunte, 20, Jason Scott Mitchell, 19, and Charles Kendrick Lee Wardlow, 18 -- appeared Tuesday in court via videoconference.


They wore thick green vests, which defense attorneys said were suicide safety smocks. They were ordered held without bail at the Pre-Trial Detention Center in Miami, Florida, where Corrections Officer Janelle Hall said they are under suicide watch.

All four suspects are expected to make initial appearances later this morning before Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy. Video Watch CNN's Rick Sanchez speak to attorneys for two of the suspects »

Rivera was armed during the alleged burglary, and "during the course of the commission of the offense ... discharged a firearm and as a result of the discharge, death or great bodily harm was inflicted upon Sean Maurice Taylor, a human being," the indictment says.

The four men were arrested Friday, officials said.

Taylor, 24, died a day after he was shot during an apparent burglary at his home. Miami-Dade police investigators said they believe the burglars thought the house was empty.

Thousands of mourners attended Taylor's funeral Monday at Florida International University's arena. Photo See photos from the funeral »

Police said Taylor and his girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, were awakened by noise coming from the living room early November 26. Taylor got up and locked the bedroom door, but the door was kicked in and two shots were fired, police said. One struck Taylor in the leg.

Garcia and the couple's 18-month-old daughter were not hurt.

Authorities have said Garcia told police she was hiding under the bedding during the attack, did not see what happened and could not provide a suspect description.

A break-in had been reported at Taylor's residence eight days earlier. A police report from that incident said someone forced a window open and left a kitchen knife on a bed. Several drawers and a bedroom safe were searched during the break-in, according to the report.

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Taylor spent four years with the Redskins, earning his first Pro Bowl selection in 2006. He suffered a sprained right knee in a November 11 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and had not played since.

The 2004 first-round draft pick played at the University of Miami, where he was an All-American in 2003. He was regarded as one of the hardest-hitting players in the NFL. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's John Couwels, Kim Segal, and Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.

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