The trial of Eric Rivera—charged with the fatal 2007 shooting of former Washington and University of Miami safety Sean Taylor—began Monday. Taylor's girlfriend, Jackie Garcia Haley, was the first witness called by the prosecution and gave a tearful and raw account of the night Taylor was killed.
Garcia Haley told jurors that she and Taylor were in bed with their then 18-month-old daughter when their Florida home was broken into. Prosecutors allege that five men broke into the house that night and Rivera shot Taylor in the femoral artery. Garcia Haley did not see Rivera, but she described hearing Taylor's murder.
She and Taylor, who had been dating since their days at Gulliver High, went to bed around 10 p.m., their 18-month-old daughter at their side. Past 1 a.m., Taylor roused her. He heard a noise. Where was the machete? By the bed, Garcia Haley whispered.
“He proceeded out toward the bedroom door,” Garcia Haley told jurors. “I attempted to call 911. I heard a really loud noise, similar to a gunshot. A scream, like an ‘Aaahh.’ I think it was Sean.’”
Garcia Haley did not see who shot Taylor. She hid under the covers and called 911. After a few moments, she emerged and inched toward Taylor, who gasped for air but was unable to speak.
“I saw him laying on the floor face down. I just saw all this blood,” Garcia Haley, 30, told jurors.
Frantically, she tried to soothe him, grabbing a towel to try and stop the bleeding. When Miami-Dade police officers arrived, Garcia Haley sprinted to let them in to the gated home.
“I ran outside and screamed for help. I told them someone was dying, to please hurry,” Garcia Haley said.
Garcia Haley then discussed dropping her daughter off at her mother's and changing her blood-soaked clothes before following Taylor and the paramedics to the hospital. She also testified that the Palmetto Bay home was most often used by family members, but she and Taylor were staying there (rather than their Virginia home) while he recovered from an injury and visiting family for Thanksgiving.
Rivera is the first of four defendants to face trial in connection with Taylor's murder. A fifth has already pleaded guilty and may testify against Rivera.
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