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Two co-defendants enter guilty pleas; no word from Vick
Two of Michael Vick's co-defendants pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to a dogfighting conspiracy charge, and both describe Vick as actively participating in the killing of about eight dogs.
As of 9:30 this morning, Vick -- a Newport News native and star quarterback of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons -- had not made an appointment for a plea hearing, a clerk in the U.S. District Court's office said.
Calls to the spokesman for Vick's defense team this morning haven't been returned, and a prosecutor declined to say whether a deal had been reached with Vick.
A clerk's office source said as of this morning, nothing has been filed. "And we are not expecting Michael Vick to plea today," the source said. "When he does come in, there are some logistical issues, such as crowd control, that must be put in place."
He's the only defendant who hasn't pleaded guilty. The first was Tony Taylor, 34, of Hampton. Today, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips entered guilty pleas. Sentencing will be Nov. 30 for Peace and Phillips.
The statements of facts from Peace and Phillips largely back up details provided in Taylor's, including the claim that Vick primarily funded the dogfighting operation.
Phillips was taken into custody after the hearing because the judge ruled he had violated the conditions of his bond. He was ordered at his arraignment to remain drug-free as a condition of his release, but a urine test came back positive for drugs.
Statements of fact filed by Phillips and Peace back up what Taylor said when he pleaded guilty -- that Vick "almost exclusively" funded the dogfighting operation known as Bad Newz Kennels, but he did not share in the proceeds.
The statements of facts filed by Peace and Phillips say Taylor and Phillips generally split the proceeds, and Peace didn't receive any of the profits until after Taylor's departure in September 2004.
The court filings also say that Peace, Phillips and Vick killed about eight dogs that failed to fight well after testing sessions in April 2007. Peace's summary of facts reads in part: "All three participated in executing the dogs. Peace agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts of Peace, Phillips and Vick."
Peace's court documents say Vick, Taylor, Peace and Phillips posed for a photo with Jane, a pit bull dog, before a fight against a female pit bull dog owned by Lockjaw Kennels from North Carolina. The fight happened in North Carolina in the spring of 2003.
In accepting the guilty pleas, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson said aggravating factors will be taken into consideration at sentencing, which means they could face harsher punishments at their sentencing. Hudson is not bound by the terms of the plea agreement worked out by prosecutors and defense, which says the "victimization and execution of pit bull dogs" described in court filings calls for "upward departure" from the sentencing guidelines.
They also agreed to testify if the government requests it from them.