Eric Rivera, Jr. Convicted Of Murder Of Sean Taylor
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South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After 16 hours of deliberations over four days, the jury in the Sean Taylor murder trial has found Eric Rivera, Jr. guilty of second-degree murder for the death of Sean Taylor.
The jury also convicted Rivera of armed burglary with assault. The jury came to the verdict shortly before three o’clock Monday afternoon.
Rivera had faced charges of 1st degree murder, but the jury convict on the lesser included charge of second-degree murder, manslaughter, burglary with a battery, and trespassing.
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.
Jurors had returned to the courtroom on Monday after taking the weekend off from deliberations. The jury spent more than three hours deliberating on Monday.
Last Friday, before jurors returned to the courtroom, a law book was discovered in the jury room. The defense team for Rivera could have alleged jury misconduct and asked for a mistrial, but they did not.
The jury is deciding the fate of Rivera, 23, who is accused of fatally shooting former UM and Washington Redskins player Sean Taylor in 2007.
Thursday, the jury once again heard the taped confession made by Rivera to police after the murder.
In a closing argument, prosecutors urged the panel to rely primarily on that confession given days after the crime, but Rivera testified in his own defense that police pressured him to confess and insisted that he didn’t even go inside Taylor’s Miami-area home that night.
Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin said Rivera’s story was full of holes and jurors should consider his Nov. 30, 2007, videotaped confession overwhelming evidence of his guilt.
Rivera told the jury he stayed in the car during the botched burglary and that another man, Venjah Hunt, was the shooter.
Testimony showed Taylor was fatally shot during the failed burglary by a group of young men from Fort Myers. They tried to burglarize the Pro Bowl player’s 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 that 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.