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Sean Taylor Murder Trial: Eric Rivera Jr Found Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder

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The jury in the murder trial of Eric Rivera Jr, the man accused of killing Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor, finished deliberating Monday and returned a guilty verdict of second degree murder. Rivera was also convicted of armed burglary. The verdict ends an almost 7 year crusade for justice for the slain Taylor.

The penalty for second degree murder in the state of Florida brings a sentencing range of 25 years to life.

Rivera, 23, was charged with first-degree murder and armed burglary in the death of Taylor, who played for the Washington Redskins and died six years ago after a group of men from Fort Myers broke into his Palmetto Bay home.

When the 12 jurors went home Friday, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy urged them to spend the weekend clearing their heads and not thinking about the closely watched case. The jury foreman admitted the third day of deliberations had been difficult.

The wait for a verdict following the emotional two-week trial had taken a lot longer than either prosecutors from the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office or Rivera’s defense attorneys from Southwest Florida expected. Jurors were handed the case late Wednesday.

In prosecutors’ version of the events, Rivera kicked open the master bedroom door and, upon seeing Taylor, who was holding a small machete, shot him in the groin. The bullet hit Taylor’s femoral artery, Taylor died later the next day.

The defense countered that Rivera only tagged along for the ride and never even left the burglars’ car.

Taylor’s friend and former teammate Santana Moss had this to say, “I haven’t been following it. I feel whatever happens to Rivera, Jr., whatever it comes down to, whatever the verdict is – as long as justice sees its way through that. I feel like whatever is done is done. There’s nothing for me to sit back and keep poring over and letting it play over and over in my head. It wasn’t something that you want to remember.”

Three of the other four accused men have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. The fourth pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving 29 years in prison.