Florida man found guilty of killing NFL's Sean Taylor

Mon Nov 4, 2013 4:57pm EST
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By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida jury on Monday convicted 23-year-old Eric Rivera, Jr. of second-degree murder in the 2007 slaying of Washington Redskins football star Sean Taylor during a botched burglary at his Miami-area home.

Rivera was also found guilty of armed burglary.

After confessing to law enforcement agents that he killed Taylor, Rivera testified during the trial that authorities had pressured him into the confession. He blamed the killing on one of the four co-defendants in the case.

Prosecutors said Rivera, who was charged with first-degree murder, and the four co-defendants hatched a burglary plot after one of the group visited Taylor's house and saw him give his sister $10,000 in cash.

"The truth is he's guilty," state prosecutor Reid Rubin argued during closing arguments last week, disputing the defense claim that police coerced the confession from Rivera, who was 17 when he was arrested for the shooting.

"He admitted it under oath and he admitted in court," Rubin said.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors presented cell phone records showing calls relayed to and from Rivera's phone through a tower near Taylor's home and a print of a Nike Shox sneaker found near the concrete wall around the house.

While Rivera confessed to owning a pair of such sneakers, defense attorneys said the videotaped confession came after a lengthy interrogation during which Rivera was denied food and phone calls.   Continued...

Eric Rivera Jr. is found guilty of second degree murder in the death of Sean Taylor in Miami, Florida November 4, 2013. REUTERS/Walter Michot/Pool