MIAMI (AP) — The man accused of fatally shooting Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor during a botched 2007 burglary testified Tuesday that he never went into the player’s home that night and cast his confession as coming only under police pressure and amid purported threats to his family.
Testifying in his murder trial, Eric Rivera Jr., 23, blamed the shooting on another member of the group of five that drove from Fort Myers to Miami, supposedly to steal large amounts of cash they thought Taylor kept around. Rivera said he and a friend never even got out of the car parked outside Taylor’s house.
“I just thought they was going to go in and get the money and come back out,” Rivera testified. “I was just sitting in the passenger seat.”
Rivera said another member of the gang, Venjah Hunte, had a gun and acknowledged firing the fatal shot. Hunte has pleaded guilty in the case but did not admit to shooting Taylor. Three others charged in the case face trial later.
Under questioning by defense attorney Janese Caruthers, Rivera flatly denied shooting Taylor and denied that he disposed of the 9mm handgun by throwing it into the Everglades. He also denied wearing the type of Nike shoes that left prints around Taylor’s house and said the idea of burglarizing Taylor’s home was not his.
It wasn’t until the group was driving across Florida that Taylor’s name came up.
“I found out, they was just saying that Sean Taylor had money in his house, they were just going to go in and get it. They already know where it’s at,” Rivera testified.
Prosecutors earlier played a detailed, videotaped confession by Rivera, including diagrams he did showing where the group was in Taylor’s house when the former University of Miami star was shot. On the stand Tuesday, Rivera said he simply repeated back to investigators the story they had told him, and said he was concerned when they said his family might be in danger.
“‘Tell us your side of the story, and we’ll make sure nothing happens to your family,'” Rivera quoted police as telling him. “At that point they’re telling me I’m going to jail, these guys are saying I did it. It was about my family at that point. I thought they might be in danger or something.”
Rivera, 17 at the time of the slaying, faces life in prison if convicted. Earlier testimony indicated that the five young men apparently thought Taylor would be out of town at a Redskins game that night, but he was home with a knee injury.
Prosecutors say Taylor died of massive blood loss after he was shot in the upper thigh. He had confronted the group with a machete after authorities say Rivera kicked in his bedroom door, where his girlfriend and 18-month-old daughter cowered under the covers.
Rivera said he bore Taylor no ill will.
“I thought he was a good football player,” Rivera testified.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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