MIAMI (CBSDC/AP) — Opening statements are scheduled Monday in the trial of the alleged shooter in the 2007 slaying of Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor.
A jury of 12 plus four alternates was seated last week to hear evidence against 23-year-old Eric Rivera Jr. Investigators say Taylor was shot when he confronted a group of youths who had broken into his Miami-area home. Taylor was home nursing a knee injury instead of accompanying the Redskins at a game.
Rivera faces a life prison sentence if convicted. Four other people from the Fort Myers area were also charged, one of whom has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary charges. That person, Venjah Hunte, is expected to testify against Rivera. Hunte’s plea deal calls for a 29-year prison term instead of life.
The other three are scheduled to go to trial later on lesser charges.
Prosecutors say the suspects drove across the state intending to burglarize Taylor’s Miami-area home, confident he wouldn’t be there. When the 6-foot-2, 230-pound player — well known as a ferocious hitter — confronted them with a machete early on Nov. 26, 2007, Eric Rivera Jr. allegedly fired two shots. One missed. The other hit Taylor in the upper leg, causing massive blood loss that led to his death a day later at age 24.
Taylor, 24 when he died, was a Pro Bowl safety who also starred at the University of Miami.
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