MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Trial got underway Tuesday for the man accused of masterminding a 2007 botched burglary which led to the murder of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor.
In her opening statement prosecutor Marie Mato methodically laid out for the jury how Jason Mitchell, along with Eric Rivera and three other men, planned to break in to Taylor’s Palmetto Bay home over the Thanksgiving weekend because they thought he’d be away for a game. She said cell phone records place Mitchell and the others traveling from Ft. Myers to Taylor’s home “like cookie crumbs that you can follow,” according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald
Mato explained to the jury that Mitchell was a friend of teen that Taylor’s daughter was dating and had even stayed in the former University of Miami defensive back’s home for four days. She said Mitchell “decided that he was going to find that pot of gold in Sean Taylor’s house,” according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
The night of the burglary, Taylor was home due to an injury. When he tried to protect his high school sweetheart Jackie Garcia and their daughter, Rivera shot him.
“A bullet had pierced femoral artery in his leg and he bled out,” Mato told the jury.
When confronted by Miami-Dade police detectives in Ft. Myers, Mato said Mitchell waived his right to remain silent and confessed. She added that since the department does not record suspect interviews before they give a sworn statement the confession was not recorded.
Defense attorney Bob Barrar took a different tack.
“That was a nice story, but prosecutor wasn’t there,” he told the jury.
Barrar said the real blame belongs to Rivera who pulled the trigger.
Rivera, who had faced a 1st degree murder charge, was convicted in November 2013 on the lesser included charge of second-degree murder, manslaughter, burglary with a battery and trespassing. He was sentenced to 57 years. Two others have yet to be tried and the fifth person pleaded guilty and was received a 29 year sentence and agreed to cooperate against the others if called to testify.
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