Man convicted in car show murder
BRIDGEPORT — A Manchester man is facing more than 100 years in prison after a jury late Friday convicted him of the Christmas Eve 2016 fatal shooting of a local man during a car show.
Despite a recorded confession from Xavier Rivera, the 12-member jury struggled for three days to arrive at a verdict, at one point telling Superior Court Judge John Kavanewsky Jr. they were unsure they could come to a decision.
But shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, the jury announced it had replaced its foreman and was ready to announce its verdict.
As the 35-year-old Rivera sobbed at the defense table the jury of six men and six women declared they had found him guilty of murder, conspiracy, unlawful restraint and unlawful discharge of a firearm for the death of 33-year-old Miguel Rivera of Bridgeport.
No sentencing hearing date was immediately set.
“I’m just really happy,” exclaimed Miguel Rivera’s girlfriend, Julie Viera, as she stood crying in the courthouse hallway after the verdict was announced. “It has been a long road and I’m grateful to the police and now I’m going to go home and hug my son.”
During the two-week trial Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Marc Durso presented evidence that on Christmas Eve, Rivera had been admiring the Mustangs and Camaros at a weekly gathering of car enthusiasts in the parking lot of AutoZone on North Avenue when a gold Cadillac Deville pulled up.
Xavier Rivera and Moises “Pito” Contreras got out of the Cadillac and grabbed Miguel Rivera and dragged him into the parking lot next door, according to testimony.
One of the men began yelling, “Where’s my (expletive),” as they pistol whipped the victim. They then began firing at him and then drove off.
Miguel Rivera, suffering from gunshot wounds to the right leg, left leg, back and torso managed to stagger down the street before collapsing by the drive through window of Popeye’s Restaurant. Witnesses testified Xavier Rivera believed the victim had previously burglarized his apartment stealing cash, sneakers and marijuana.
But the highlight of the trial was when Durso played for the jury a recording of Xavier Rivera admitting to killing the victim that a witness had recorded on his cell phone.
Contreras is awaiting trial in the case.