MIAMI (AP) — The father of a man on trial in the slaying of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor testified Monday that it took him hours to find his son the day he was arrested, and that his son appeared shaken and frightened when they finally were allowed to meet.
Investigators took Eric Rivera Jr. into custody in Fort Myers on Nov. 30, 2007, a few days after Taylor was fatally shot in his Miami-area home during what investigators say was a botched burglary. His father, Eric Rivera Sr., said he went to two local police departments and called his son's cell phone several times, but could not locate him.
"We were worried about our son. We were hoping to hear about his whereabouts because he never ended up in school," the father said. "He was a kid at that point. Any parent is worried about their son."
It wasn't until late afternoon or evening, the elder Rivera said, that he was contacted by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents and brought by them to the FDLE office to meet his son. By that time Rivera Jr., then 17, had been in custody for several hours and had given a statement admitting to his role in the crime, police have testified.
"He had a worried, worried look. Like a scared look. Very tired look," Rivera Sr. said of his son.
The cornerstone of the younger Rivera's defense is that his detailed, videotaped confession was improperly coerced by overzealous investigators seeking to close a high-profile murder case. The father's testimony that Rivera was questioned for hours without any contact with his family is part of that legal strategy.
Prosecutors rested their main case earlier Monday against Rivera, now 23, who faces life in prison if convicted. Four other people were charged in the case, one of whom has pleaded guilty. Trial for the others will be held later. Closing arguments in the Rivera case could come as early as Wednesday.
In cross-examination, Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin poked several holes in Rivera Sr.'s testimony, noting that in an earlier sworn statement the father had said he couldn't remember if he called his son's cell phone.
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