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Shotgun shells now key issues in man's second murder trial

Shotgun shells now key issues in man's second murder trial image
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Shotgun shells now key issues in man's second murder trial



Two shotgun shells - one found in the home of a witness in a murder case, the other found in an Ann Arbor storm drain - have become key issues in the first degree murder trial of Carlos “Fluffy” Rivera.

Rivera, 25, is on trial for the second time in seven weeks. His first trial on the same murder and armed robbery charges ended in November with a hung jury.

This morning, the defense rested its case after calling one witness. Closing arguments were expected to begin sometime today.

In the second trial, Rivera and his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Robert West, have changed their defense tactics entirely. Where Rivera claimed an alibi in the first trial, he now admits to being at the murder scene last March 11 when Lenson J. Mays, 39, was shot to death on the front porch of an Ypsilanti residence.

Two people who were at the home at 338 Orchard St. have testified that Rivera and an accomplice had come there that night brandishing a sawed-off shotgun and demanding money from the two,

The witnesses, David Williams and his girlfriend, Maxine Ray, identified Rivera as the man who shot Mays as Rivera and his accomplice fled out the door. The witnesses claimed that Mays unexpectedly rang the doorbell during the holdup.

Williams testified that a shotgun shell found in Williams’ home by police was one he shot on New Year’s Eve 1983, and that about six weeks before the fatal shooting, he sold the weapon to a man whose name he couldn’t remember.

But a second link between Williams and the shotgun was made on Tuesday during attorney West’s cross-examination of Joseph Condron, the Ypsilanti Police detective who headed the investigation.

Under questioning from West, Condron testified that Ann Arbor police had received a tip on the shooting in April, several weeks after the shooting. Condron said police were told by an unnamed informant that Rivera’s brother had buried the murder weapon and dropped the shotgun cartridge in a storm drain at Plainview and Hemlock streets.

The cartridge was recovered, Condron testified, and was matched to the one found in Williams’ home. But police have been unable to determine whether the shotgun was the murder weapon because the gun has never been found.

Condron also gave testimony about a statement Rivera gave to police.

Rivera, according to his statement, had gone to Williams’ home with a friend the night of March 11 Ho “straighten out a drug deal.”  Rivera said Williams let the pair into his home, but when an argument ensued Williams threatened Rivera with a shotgun.

Rivera, according to testimony, told police he and his friend ran out the door as the gun went off and “just about ran over the guy” who was standing near the front door.

The sole defense witness, Setin Rivera, the defendant’s brother, testified this morning that he had spent most of the afternoon of March 11 with Carlos Rivera. Setin said he dropped his brother off at his own home in Ann Arbor around 8 p.m. that day.

The shooting occurred between 10:30 and 11 p.m.