Second Sean Taylor Murder Suspect Found Guilty Of First-Degree Murder
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South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – After three and a half hours of deliberation, a jury has convicted Jason Mitchell, the second man to go on trial for the murder of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor, guilty of first-degree murder and armed burglary.
Mitchell was found guilty Tuesday around 6 p.m.
Mitchell, the alleged mastermind of the 2007 burglary plan, along with four 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. 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, one of the men, Eric Rivera, shot him.
During his closing argument, Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin told the jury that under the state’s felony murder law each of the men involved in the burglary that night has to be treated like they were the ones who pulled the trigger.
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. The state claims he “decided that he was going to find that pot of gold in Sean Taylor’s house” and planned the burglary.
“Sean Taylor was a giving man. He died because of greed. That’s what this case is about; greed and betrayal,” Rubin told the jury according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
The day of the burglary cell phone records show that Mitchell and the others traveled from Ft. Myers to Taylor’s home. After the shooting they fled back to Ft. Myers.
“Sean Taylor is bleeding to death. He’s at [a friend's] house laughing with his friends. Good times, right,” said Rubin, according to the Miami Herald.
Mitchell’s attorney Bon Barrar told the jury if they were to convict his client, the most appropriate charge would be simple burglary, not armed burglary and felony murder. Barrar said Mitchell wasn’t the one with the gun and wasn’t the one to shoot Taylor.
Referencing the 1980s TV show Dallas “Who shot JR?” Barrar told the jury “We know who shot Sean Taylor, it was Eric Rivera,” according to the Miami Herald.
During his closing statement, Barrar also referenced Fantasy Island and Animal House when he looked at the reams of state’s evidence and said “It just doesn’t matter,” according to the Herald.
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.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.
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