Defendant's Jailhouse Letter Focus on Day 3 of Sean Taylor Murder Trial

Eric Rivera told his cousin to convince a witness to lie to police, The Miami Herald reported

The man charged with shooting NFL star Sean Taylor in his Palmetto Bay home told a cousin to convince a witness to lie to police, according to a jailhouse letter introduced by a prosecutor Wednesday.

Eric Rivera wrote to his cousin Jairus Brice about witness Ariel Boston, the Miami Herald reported.

"Y'all just handle Ariel ASAP and I'll be straight," Rivera wrote in the letter, which prosecutor Reid Rubin read aloud in court on the third day of his trial.

Rivera, 23, is charged with first-degree murder and burglary with assault or battery in the death of Taylor, 24, who died following what prosecutors say was a botched robbery at his home.

According to prosecutors, Rivera and four other suspects thought Taylor was not home early on Nov. 26, 2007, when they drove from Fort Myers to burglarize his house.

But Taylor was home, and confronted them with a machete when he was shot by Rivera, prosecutors said. Miami-Dade Police got a tip that led them to Rivera and the other suspects, and when Rivera was questioned by detectives, he made a full confession, prosecutors said.

Rivera's defense attorneys say detectives wore Rivera down and coerced him into the confession.

Taylor, a two-time Pro Bowl safety for the Washington Redskins, had starred at the University of Miami, helping the Hurricanes to the national championship in 2001. He was shot in the upper leg, lost a massive amount of blood, and died the next day.

Rivera and three others, all from the Fort Myers area, have pleaded not guilty and are being tried separately. Each faces a possible life sentence if convicted. A fifth man previously pleaded guilty to murder and burglary charges and is likely to testify against the others.

Because Rivera, now 23, was only 17 at the time, he faces life in prison instead of the death penalty if convicted.

Boston testified that the group showed up at her home in their rented sports utility vehicle soon after Taylor's shooting, at about 3 a.m., and ditched tools outside her home. Police believe they used those tools for their break-in at Taylor's residence, the Herald reported.

Months later, Lee County deputies attempted to pull over a car for speeding in Fort Myers, and Rivera's cousin, Brice, got out of the car and ran away, according to the Herald.

The deputy who caught Brice found Rivera's letter in his back pocket. It was kept under seal until Wednesday.

In it Rivera did not write that he killed Taylor, but he did say that her testimony was "gonna hurt the worst," according to the Herald. He told his cousin to schmooze her, the newspaper reported.

Rivera said that if Boston gave the account of events he wanted her to give, the prosecutor wouldn't have a case against him.

"Check this out cuz, the murder case is the hardest case to get someone on," wrote Rivera, who told Brice to burn the letter, according to the Herald. "They ain’t got enough on me whatsoever. All they got is [my] statement.”

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