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Final Charge Dropped

Fairfax Judge dismisses final charge against Washington Redskins' safety Sean Taylor.

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor told state trooper Mandre Boggess that he needed to sing, rather than recite, his ABCs. Boggess testified last Thursday that he and Taylor laughed when Boggess instructed the Redskins rookie to recite the alphabet backwards during a field sobriety test on the Capital Beltway near the Georgetown Pike exit in McLean on Oct. 28, 2004.

"He advised me he can't do it backwards. I advised him I can't do it either. That's when we started to laugh," Boggess said, during a hearing last Thursday, March 10, in Fairfax Circuit Court.

<b>BOGGESS HAD STOPPED</b>Taylor after clocking Taylor's silver BMW at 82 miles per hour on the Capital Beltway near Georgetown Pike in McLean at 2:34 a.m. last October; Boggess smelled alcohol as he talked with Taylor. He conducted five field sobriety tests on Taylor and, on the final test, Taylor missed three letters when reciting the alphabet from "e" to "o."

Boggess arrested Taylor, who had been driving home to his Ashburn residence where he lived during the football season, for driving under the influence of alcohol and refusing a breathalyzer test. Taylor said he attended a birthday party for teammate Rod Gardner in Washington, D.C.

Last Thursday, March 10, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows dropped the second and final charge against Taylor — refusing a breathalyzer test — after Bellows viewed portions of the 47-minute video tape of Taylor's field sobriety tests and his eventual arrest.

General District Court Judge Mitchell Mutnick, who also viewed the videotape, dismissed the DWI charge against Taylor on Jan. 5, 2005 stating lack of sufficient evidence. Mutnick did find Taylor guilty of refusing the breathalyzer test, a civil penalty punishable by a one-year mandatory license suspension.

Taylor and his defense attorney Warren W. McLain filed a motion to appeal the conviction that day.

<b>"HE TOOK THE TESTS,</b> he passed them and he shouldn't have been arrested in this case," argued McLain, during last Thursday's court hearing. "If there was no probable cause for his arrest, then everything that follows that has to go, including this charge."

Jay Nanavati, assistant commonwealth's attorney, told Bellows that he agreed with McLain's argument that the final charge should be dropped if the arrest were improper. But Nanavati argued that there was sufficient reason for Boggess to arrest Taylor.

"It wasn't the worst case we've ever seen, but there was probable cause to make an arrest," said Nanavati. "We have a trooper smelling alcohol, I think the trooper is entitled to take the next step."

<b>"THE ONLY TEST</b> that gave me concern was the alphabet test," said Bellows, who noted that Taylor showed no slurred speech and no incoherence during the field sobriety tests. "I have no issue with the credibility of the officer. … I find the tape was very helpful," said Bellows. Taylor spent the night at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and was benched by the Redskins for the next game, the only game he missed during the season.

"He's maintained he was innocent," McLain said. "The case should have been dismissed and he should not have been arrested."

Outside the courthouse, Taylor said the charge would always be there when he was asked about the impact of the charges on him and his reputation.

During the four-hour court hearing, Nanavati asked Boggess at what point Taylor made racial comments, such as calling Boggess "Uncle Tom."

"The racial insults were once we left the scene. He said I only stopped him because he's black and driving a nice car," testified Boggess. "I asked him, 'Do you really believe that?'"

"It happens all the time," Boggess testified.