MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The man accused of fatally shooting former UM star and Washington Redskins player Sean Taylor during a failed 2007 burglary waived his right to remain silent and took the stand in his own defense Tuesday.
Testimony is concluded late Tuesday and motions and instruction argument are expected Wednesday morning. Closing arguments are expected to start Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.
By taking the stand, Rivera opens himself up to cross-examination by prosecutors who will try to exploit any possible holes in his story.
Defense attorneys for Rivera began by trying to paint him as a solid kid by showing pictures of him with his family. Rivera said that he didn’t know he was begin taken to the home of Taylor.
Rivera told the jury he stayed in the car during the botched burglary and that another man, Venjah Hunt, was the shooter.
Rivera’s attorneys are trying to show jurors that his confession was improperly coerced by investigators. Testimony on Monday showed that Rivera, then 17, was questioned for hours before his family was contacted.
Pathologist Dr. Satish Chundru testified Monday that the bullet struck which struck Taylor hit him in the femoral artery of his right groin, and that the strapping defensive back essentially bled to death on the bedroom floor of his Palmetto Bay home.
Rivera and four pals, prosecutors say, drove from Fort Myers to the Taylor home in Miami-Dade County intending to burglarize the house in an effort to make off with tens of thousands of dollars in cash they believed they would find there.
The group also mistakenly believed that no one would be home, because Taylor had a football game that Thanksgiving weekend. An injury, however, kept him away from the game.
The evidence against Rivera includes a tennis shoe print on the kicked in door of Taylor’s bedroom that matches shoes Rivera was wearing, cell phone records that put Rivera in the area, testimony from acquaintances from Fort Myers, and a videotaped confession that Rivera gave police.
Three of the five defendants in the Taylor murder case await trial. A fourth plead guilty earlier, accepting a 29 year sentence, and agreeing to cooperate against the others if called to testify.
If convicted, Rivera faces life in prison. Because he was a teenager at the time of the alleged murder, the death penalty is not an option.