The man who prosecutors say fired the shot that killed Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor during a botched 2007 burglary was sentenced Thursday to more than 57 years in state prison.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy imposed the sentence on Eric Rivera, 23, one of five Fort Myers-area men charged with Taylor’s death after they broke into his house looking to steal cash. One has pleaded guilty and three others are still awaiting trial.
“He lost his life defending and protecting his family,” said Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin in a closing statement. “They kicked the door in and they shot him and killed him, for no good reason.”
In a brief statement, Rivera told members of Taylor’s family he was sorry for the killing and that Taylor was “a good man.”
“I live with his death every day. I’m going to have to deal with the consequences,” he said.
Several Rivera family members pleaded for leniency, noting that Rivera was still a minor at the time and that he had never been in trouble with the law before. But Rubin said Rivera had committed perjury in his testimony and tried to influence the testimony of others in his case.
“He’s a sophisticated, manipulative criminal. There’s no good reason to believe he will change,” Rubin said.
Rivera could have gotten life behind bars. His lawyers are planning to appeal his conviction.
Taylor, a first-round pick by the Redskins in the 2004 draft, was a hard-hitting Pro Bowl safety who had previously starred at the University of Miami. He was shot during the November 2007 confrontation in the upper thigh, damaging his femoral artery and leading to massive blood loss. Taylor was 24 when he died.