Eric Rivera, a 23-year-old who was among five men who robbed former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, leading to his death, was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2007 Florida shooting.
Taylor died Nov. 24 of that year from a gunshot wound he suffered as the victim of a botched home invasion.
Rivera confessed to authorities that he shot Taylor after kicking in a bedroom door. But when he was on the witness stand, Rivera said investigators eager for a conviction coerced his confession. He later claimed that he was not the shooter.
Four other men were charged in the case. One has pleaded guilty and the others will stand trial in the future.
At 24, Taylor was one of the NFL’s best young talents when he was killed. The penalty for second-degree murder in Florida ranges from 25 years to life.
Prosecutors said that Rivera was one of five who broke into Taylor’s Palmetto Bay house when they did not believe he was present. Upon breaking into the master bedroom, prosecutors say Rivera shot Taylor in the femoral artery, which caused him to bleed to death. However, the jury reportedly could not agree that Rivera was the one who pulled the trigger, resulting in a lesser charge of second-degree murder after four days of deliberation.
Taylor played just four seasons in the NFL after he was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, earning Pro Bowl nods in his final two years. In 55 career games, Taylor accumulated 12 interceptions and eight forced fumbles.
Prior to leaving for the NFL, Taylor earned unanimous All-American honors as a junior with the Miami Hurricanes and received the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award before entering the NFL Draft one year early.
Rivera will be sentenced in December, when he could receive as much as a life imprisonment.