Accused shooter Eric Rivera Jr. has been found guilty of the second-degree murder of former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor.
After 16 hours of deliberations over four days, the 12-member jury came to its decision, which could keep Rivera in prison for life, according to Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald.
CBS News executive producer Charlie Kaye reported the news Monday on Twitter:
BREAKING. Miami jury finds Eric Rivera Jr. guilty of 2nd degree murder in the 2007 shooting of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor.— Charlie Kaye (@CharlieKayeCBS) November 4, 2013
Taylor died on Nov. 27, 2007, one day after being shot in the leg by an intruder inside his home in Miami. The bullet struck the 24-year-old's femoral artery, causing tremendous blood loss.
According to the prosecution's version of the events, Rivera—then just 17—and four other men drove from Fort Myers to Taylor's home in South Miami with the intention of robbing his home. They thought Taylor would be in Tampa with the Redskins. Instead, Taylor was at home with his girlfriend and their infant daughter.
According to the prosecution, after Rivera and the other four men gained entry into the house, Rivera kicked the bedroom door open to find Taylor holding a small machete. Rivera then shot Taylor in the groin.
Rivera confessed to shooting Taylor twice: once in a taped confession to police that was later played for the jury and once in a court hearing while under oath.
According to the Associated Press' Curt Anderson (via The Washington Times), 23-year-old Rivera denied killing Taylor last week and stated that his confession following his arrest was a result of pressure from the police and threats to his family: "I just thought they was going to go in and get the money and come back out. I was just sitting in the passenger seat."
Rivera testified during his trial, blaming the murder on another man who had traveled to Taylor's home the night of his death.
According to Anderson, Rivera confirmed that the tools used to break into Taylor's home came from his garage. In addition, Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin highlighted past phone conversations showing inconsistencies in Rivera's story and a threatening letter written to a witness.
According to the Miami Herald report, three of the other four men involved are awaiting trial after pleading not guilty. The fourth pleaded guilty and is serving a 29-year prison sentence.
The hope is that Monday's conviction can provide Taylor's family, the Washington Redskins and fans everywhere with some form of closure.
A consensus All-American and Big East Defensive Player of the Year during his final season with the Miami Hurricanes, Taylor burst onto the NFLL scene as a hard-hitting, impact player who could change the game in an instant.
The Redskins selected Taylor with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft. In his career with the team, he totaled 299 tackles, two sacks, eight forced fumbles and 12 interceptions in just 55 games over four seasons.
An All-Pro in 2007, Taylor would earn two Pro Bowl nods before his tragic death.
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