It’s been years, but finally a man has been convicted in the murder of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Eric Rivera Jr., 23, was found guilty of both second-degree murder and armed burglary. Rivera was 17 years-old at the time of the crime and could be sentenced to life in prison, the minimum is 25 years.
Rivera had confessed to authorities saying he kicked in Taylor’s bedroom door and shot him. On the witness stand he changed his story and said that the confession was coerced by investigators who were eager for a conviction. There are still four other men charged in Taylor’s murder, and Rivera claims one of them shot Taylor.
One of the more haunting parts of the trial was Taylor’s girlfriend, Garcia Haley, recounting the events of that night.
From the Miami Herald:
She and Taylor, who had been dating since their days at Gulliver High, went to bed around 10 p.m., their 18-month-old daughter at their side. Past 1 a.m., Taylor roused her. He heard a noise. Where was the machete? By the bed, Garcia Haley whispered.
“He proceeded out toward the bedroom door,” Garcia Haley told jurors. “I attempted to call 911. I heard a really loud noise, similar to a gunshot. A scream, like an ‘Aaahh.’ I think it was Sean.’”
Garcia Haley did not see who shot Taylor. She hid under the covers and called 911. After a few moments, she emerged and inched toward Taylor, who gasped for air but was unable to speak.
“I saw him laying on the floor face down. I just saw all this blood,” Garcia Haley, 30, told jurors.
Frantically, she tried to soothe him, grabbing a towel to try and stop the bleeding. When Miami-Dade police officers arrived, Garcia Haley sprinted to let them in to the gated home.
“I ran outside and screamed for help. I told them someone was dying, to please hurry,” Garcia Haley said.
This won’t heal the wounds of Taylors family, friends and fans, but it is a step forward in getting justice for the events of that night.