Man Found Guilty of Murdering Sean Taylor

Sean Taylor
Getty Images
Sean Taylor
Getty Images

A 23-year-old man was convicted of armed burglary and second-degree murder in the 2007 shooting death of the Washington Redskins' Sean Taylor, reports.

Eric Rivera Jr., who could face life in prison, confessed to shooting Taylor shortly after he was arrested, but once on the stand he changed his story, claiming that his confession was coerced by the police and that someone else shot the star safety outside his bedroom, reports.

Four men have also been charged in the robbery gone wrong at the Taylor household. According to Rivera's confession and, one of the young men, 25-year-old Jason Mitchell, attended a birthday party at Taylor's home for his half sister, Sasha Johnson.


Johnson testified that Taylor gave her a purse filled with $10,000 in cash. The party guests all saw the extravagant gesture. Johnson allegedly told the other four men about the party, and a plan was hatched.

The five young men, all from the Fort Myers, Fla., area, drove to the home, planning to steal cash they believed would be inside, reports. Since the Redskins were scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they figured that Taylor wouldn't be home, but they didn't realize that Taylor hadn't traveled with the team because of a knee injury.

Testifying in his own defense, Rivera claimed that he didn't have a gun, reports. He says that another friend, Venjah Hunte, 25, had the 9mm handgun that was used in the shooting and that he shot Taylor. Rivera claims that he had no idea a burglary was planned the day they drove to Taylor's house until he was in the car. He also claims that he never left the car and stayed outside the home.

Hunte pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary charges, and his plea deal requires that he serve a 29-year prison sentence.


As for Rivera, the jury, which deliberated for four days, was unclear of the role he played in the murder, but not the burglary.

"They believed that he was part of the burglary and was present when it occurred," David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, told "There was no eyewitness to put the gun in Rivera's hand, and that is what at least one juror needed to convict him of first-degree murder."  


No sentencing date has been set for Rivera, but Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy will hold a related hearing Dec. 10.

The three other young men are still awaiting trial, reports.


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