"Rivera guilty of assault, innocent of murder"
June 11, 2008 · Updated 10:51 AM
"The jury in the first degree murder trial of Anthony Rivera decided Monday that being an accomplice did not make him a murderer. Although at least one juror could not find Rivera guilty of murder, the 20-year-old Bremerton man was found guilty on three counts of assault. Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced later in the month.Prosecutors are expected to file a retrial motion on the murder charge. During closing arguments Feb. 22, Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Anderson told the jury that even though Rivera didn't fire a shot, the 20-year-old from Bremerton was a prime player in the June 17, 1999 shooting death of Immanuel Taylor last June at Taylor's Lebo Boulevard apartment. Although Bradley Foster, 20, from Port Orchard, admitted to firing the fatal shot and has already pleaded guilty to second degree murder, Rivera was tried for first degree murder - he allegedly had a gun and would have fired at the victim if his weapon hadn't jammed.According to Anderson, Rivera brought a 15-year-old Bremerton youth into the group of 10 who went to Taylor's apartment, and it was that youth who brought the gun Foster used to kill Taylor.The teen is the only other member of the shooting crew who hasn't already pleaded guilty to some charge in the case. He is slated for trial next month. He will be tried as an adult.Evidence showed Foster, the step-son of veteran Kitsap County Sheriff Deputy Don Lutes, fired at least five times into Taylor's apartment.One bullet struck the 18-year-old victim in the arm and the fatal shot hit him in the head.Foster, who testified at the Rivera trial, told detectives he saw something in Taylor's hand just before firing off five or six shots.But prosecutors said what Taylor was holding wasn't a firearm but a fried chicken leg.Rivera, Foster and eight other Port Orchard and Bremerton teenagers went to Taylor's apartment to retrieve $400 in marijuana Taylor allegedly took from the Port Orchard contingent earlier without paying.Foster and Rivera told authorities they had never met before the fatal encounter but Rivera did know Taylor, who had allegedly challenged him to fisticuffs only hours before his death.Rivera had told others after the shooting that he didn't kill Taylor.The crazy white boy shot him, Rivera, an African American, said, according to his attorney, Greg Memovich of Silverdale. In a meandering closing argument that rambled on almost an hour, Memovich said the state's case, heavily reliant on testimony from six of the nine people with Rivera the night of the shooting, was based on the witnesses' self-interest.Mr. Rivera did not lie to you. He did not try to save his own neck at the expense of other people. I'm not sure the state (witnesses) can say the same thing, he said.Memovich also claimed that Foster's step-father, Lutes, pushed Rivera's name into questioning sessions with the Port Orchard youths after their arrests.Mr. Rivera is the felon. They (the police) have their designs. They want Mr. Rivera nailed, Memovich said.In rebuttal, Anderson, standing over the seated Rivera, pointed at the defendant while talking to the all-white jury in hushed tones.Thomas Rivera was in fact an accomplice. Thomas Rivera played a crucial role in the killing of Immanuel Taylor, he said."