|William Rivera as he was led out of court|
Monday, October 20, 2014
Bristol Twp. man headed to trial in brother-in-law's death
Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
George Rodriguez reportedly told his brother-in-law William Rivera that he no longer considered him a brother, calling him a piece of excrement, during a family party held Labor Day weekend.
In response, Rivera, 63, retrieved a 12-gauge shotgun that he kept for protection, loaded it with two rounds, and fatally shot the unarmed 59-year-old Rodriguez twice as he sat on the living room couch, a Bristol Township detective said.
“It appeared to go from zero to 60 fast,” Detective Michael Slaughter said.
When Rodriguez was killed, his 7-year-old son and girlfriend were in the room, police testified at Rivera’s preliminary hearing on charges of criminal homicide, possession of an instrument of a crime and reckless endangerment in the death of Rodriguez, his wife’s brother.
The boy was so close to the shooting that police confiscated his “Toy Story” T-shirt as evidence because it was stained with blood and body tissue, Slaughter testified.
Patrolman Kenneth Margerum testified Tuesday that when he responded to the home in the 4400 block of Fayette Drive about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 31, he found a hysterical woman outside. She told officers that the man with the gun was inside in a back bedroom, Margerum said. The family party was breaking up and six people, including the boy, were still in the house at the time, police said.
When he entered the home, Margerum found Rodriguez, of Trenton, on the living room floor with a pool of blood around his waist. An autopsy later confirmed he had been shot twice with a 12-gauge Remington shotgun in the chest and groin area.
Margerum testified he found Rivera in a back bedroom sitting on a bed crying while an unidentified woman next to him rubbed his back. He was taken into custody and transported to police headquarters.
Slaughter told the court that when he spoke with Rivera at police headquarters, he appeared to be shaking and sobbing, but not crying. He also said Rivera showed no signs of intoxication and didn’t smell of alcohol.
Investigators found two spent shell casings and a live round on the living room floor, he added. The suspected murder weapon was found under a bed in another bedroom of the home, police said.
Slaughter said there was no sign of a struggle in the living room.
Rodriguez’s girlfriend told police she was asleep when she heard the gunshots and did not see Rodriguez or Rivera. After the shooting, she grabbed the boy and ran to another part of the home, Slaughter said he was told.
Following testimony, District Judge Joanne Kline held Rivera for trial on all charges. He remains in Bucks County prison without bail.
Rivera, who appeared in court clean shaven with his formerly long gray hair cut in a close crop, said nothing as he was led out of his hearing.