MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The man convicted in the murder of NFL star Sean Taylor was sentenced Thursday to 57 and a half years in prison.
Eric Rivera Jr., 23, was found guilty last November of second degree murder for the shooting death of Taylor during a botched burglary in 2007.
Rivera was facing life in prison. Death penalty was not an option because Rivera was a teenager at the time of the murder.
“He was a true hero. He risked and lost his life defending and protecting his family,” said Prosecutor Reid Rubin in court Thursday.
Taylor’s father, Florida City’s Police Chief Pete Taylor, recalled the heartache of having to clean his son’s blood from the crime scene but asked for no revenge.
“Judge I thank you for your time, I thank you for your patience on this whole ordeal and God bless you and hope that you do the right thing,” said Pete Taylor.
Rivera’s mother cried in court, saying he did a stupid thing as kid years ago.
Rivera, who will leave prison as an old man, spoke briefly on his sentencing day.
“I live with his death every day and I’m happy with the consequences and I’m truly sorry…” said Rivera.
Taylor’s family believes the judge’s sentence was just.
“Sean Taylor was my first grandchild and I miss him very much however I am satisfied with the judge’s decision today,” said Taylor’s Grandmother Constance Dingle.
It took a jury 16 hours of deliberations over four days to convict Rivera.
Rivera had faced charges of 1st degree murder, but the jury convicted him on the lesser included charge of second-degree murder, manslaughter, burglary with a battery, and trespassing.
Testimony during the trial showed Taylor, who played for the University of Miami and the Washington Redskins, 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 included 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.