Jury instructions can be seen live on 13WHAM.com at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
13WHAM's Rachel Barnhart will also have real-time updates as often as possible via a live blog and her Twitter feed: twitter.com/rachbarnhart. Read the live blog recap of day four below this article.
(Rochester, N.Y.) – In court on Thursday, Tyquan Rivera denied shooting Rochester Police Officer Anthony DiPonzio on the stand Thursday morning. Instead, he said a man in a ski mask and dreadlocks shot DiPonzio and paid Rivera to take the gun and hide it.
The 15-year-old took the stand around 10:40 a.m. and testified for about two hours. He appeared composed and spoke loudly and clearly. He is charged with attempted murder and assault.
Rivera said he dropped out of school in the seventh grade and that there was a warrant out for his arrest for leaving the St. Joseph’s Villa children’s home.
He said he, his two brothers, and cousin went to bed around 1 a.m. and woke up around 3:20 p.m. on January 31. Rivera said he went to the store after he got up.Encounter with Officer Kevin Mack
Rivera said he did say the abusive language to Officer Kevin Mack the day of the shooting and asked why Mack was “harassing” him. He said Mack used “a little force” to get him to the side of the house. He fell into a snowbank and lost his knit cap.
Rivera says Mack left him on the porch of his house and returned to car.
Rivera denied telling Mack that he had “better get back your car.” Instead, he says that he went to retrieve his cap, calling Mack’s name and saying he needed his cap.Masked Shooter with Dreadlocks
He said that as he was asking for his hat, “a pop went off, like a firecracker.” Rivera says the pop came from “a young man on the side of the driveway” to his house. He said the man had a gun, a ski mask on his face, and dreadlocks in his hair.
Rivera said the man told him to hold the gun for him, "he said ‘you gotta grab the gun’." Rivera also said the man then handed him "300-something" dollars and the rifle, which he put in his mother’s closet.
Rivera said when he went outside, he saw a lot of police cars.
“They were taking cover,” he said.
Rivera said he left, but told a woman he knew as Tashayla, everything he knew, and that her boyfriend gave him a ride. He said they rode around the neighborhood before getting dropped off at a house on Emerson.
Rivera also testified he stayed at the house that night and the next day. His cousin, Robert Hunter, stopped by to get his cell phone.
He said he asked his cousin, “Was the cops looking for me? Did they think I shot the cop?” But his cousin said he didn’t know.
Finally, Defense Attorney Culver Barr asked Rivera directly whether he shot Officer DiPonzio, and Rivera denied it.Cross-Examination Begins
Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green began his cross-examination by listing contradictions in Rivera’s testimony. He countered that Rivera’s claim of casually walking to the store before being accosted by a police officer flies in the face of the evidence.
Rivera said had dealt with Mack before, who had patrolled his neighborhood in the afternoons. Mack once offered to help him with his homework. He said he didn’t remember calling Mack “weak" or an "a-hole" and said Mack was acting "aggressive" and that he was mad at him
Rivera denied that he felt mad when Mack pushed him into the snow bank, saying “Not really, he helped me up,” but then said “I probably called him an a-hole after I called him weak. I told him 'Can you please get off me?'”
When asked how he felt being dragged by Mack down the street in front of his friends, Rivera said Mack was doing his job, but when asked if he was “pissed off,” Rivera said, “You could say that.”
Green asked Rivera if he remembered buying the rifle from a 13-year-old on Avenue D for $35, but Rivera denied buying the rifle. Green also asked whether he recalled the 13-year-old saying it was a BB gun, which Rivera also denied.
When asked why he didn't tell any officers that he'd seen the man in the ski mask, Rivera said, "It would all fall on me. Why would I do that?"
Green said Rivera told his brother to "move that thing," which he denied. Green said Rivera’s brother got angry because “that thing” shouldn't be there. Rivera said he knew his brothers moved the gun and wiped it down with a t-shirt.
After the court’s lunch break, Green returned to the topic of the man Rivera claimed to be the shooter. The teen said he never saw his face because he was wearing a mask, and that he didn’t know him.
“You got up close to him to take his money, though, right?”, said Green, asking if he saw his mouth and build, height, hair, skin color. Rivera said he didn’t remember in which hand the man held the rifle.
“Here's a masked man with dreadlocks holding a gun, and you're telling us that's not something that's burned in your mind?” asked Green.
Rivera replied, "No."
“You don't know what he was wearing. You don't know what hand he has the gun in. All you can recall is his mask and dreadlocks,” asked Green.
Rivera replied, “Yes.”
Green continued to press for details on the masked shooter and the money exchange. Rivera said the masked man said, "Can you hold something...I got something for you to hold." It was a long rifle.
He said he did not know the rifle that he used to shoot down the street at the police officers, though he said he saw the police officers scramble when he heard the bang.
Rivera said even though he believed the masked man had fired a shot, he agreed to take the rifle and hide it.
Rivera said he has never seen the masked man or heard from him again.
Green then pressed Rivera on a conversation his cousin, Robert Hunter. Rivera testified that he doesn't remember Hunter’s testimony that Rivera asked him "Do they have any evidence of me shooting the cop?" or that Rivera asked Hunter if they got any fingerprints off the rifle. Green asked Rivera whether he told Robert Hunter about the masked man, and Rivera said he hadn’t.
Rivera said he did not recall either Hunter’s testimony in court or the incident itself. He said he wasn't worried that there was evidence he shot the cop: "I was not worried, because I did not shoot the cop."
Instead, Rivera said he asked, "Did they have evidence of somebody shooting the cop?"
When Rivera finished testifying, his attorney, Culver Barr, twice made motions to dismiss the trial for lack of evidence, which were denied by the judge.
Morning Testimony from Rivera's Mother
Wanda Lise, Tyquan Rivera's mother, took the stand first Thursday morning. She is a certified nursing assistant who was working when DiPonzio was shot.
Lise testified that she had never seen the rifle before that was found in her house. She had signed a consent form that allowed officers to search her home.
Police found three guns--the rifle and two BB guns--but Lise only recognized a BB gun found in one of her other son’s room and a gun that was found under the couch. She denied that the guns were in those places when she left the house. Lise testified, however, that her sons said neither of the guns worked.
Witness testimony ended around 2:40 p.m. Thursday. Kristen Trewerm, the last witness, is a civilian evidence technician who was a rebuttal witness for the prosecution, and dealt with the BB guns found in Rivera’s home.Closing Arguments
Barr reiterated in his closing arguments that the main issue is the identity of the shooter. He began by reviewing the testimony and actions of Officer Kevin Mack in his encounter with Tyquan Rivera, as well as the actions of other police investigators in the case.
He attempted to establish doubt in the technical evidence in the case, arguing that there was no clear indication of where the shot came from. He mentioned that Rivera’s cousin, Robert Hunter, was the only prosecution civilian witness to testify in the case, all the others being police officers or professional experts.
Barr, while praising the work of Anthony DiPonzio’s doctors and the officers who helped save his life, characterized DiPonzio’s testimony to the jury as “a play on your emotions” by the prosecution.
Barr argued that the community should be concerned if the police had “tunnel vision” and that the case was primarily circumstantial.
Monroe County District Attorney’s closing argument countered that if all the evidence is lined up, there is no other reasonable explanation. Green said that, though Rivera tried to supply an alternative, “it was not a reasonable and logical explanation.”
Green attempted to narrow down the possible suspects using Rivera’s own testimony. “Was it was Tyquan Rivera that fired the shot, or was it the masked mystery man who fired the shot?”
“Was the mystery man mad at Officer Mack?” Green asked. “There was one person mad at Officer Mack… Tyquan Rivera… If he doesn’t know the mystery man from Adam, why is he asking his brothers to clean the gun off and hide it?”
Green detailed the technical evidence in the case, saying that by looking at where the officers took cover and by their positioning, you can tell where the shot came from, as well as the sound of the shot as described by various witnesses.
Green assailed Rivera’s testimony of the masked man shooter, saying he couldn’t recall what the man looked like and gave vague answers, and questioned the logic that a gunman would bother to give a stranger the gun and $300. “I submit to you, none of it ever happened,” Green said.
Green said Robert Hunter would have no reason to lie. He said that if your cousin shot a police officer, you’d remember conversations with him, citing the admissions Green said Rivera made to his cousin. Hunter testified that Rivera asked of him, “Do they have any evidence of me shooting the cop?”
The jury will be charged with the case at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Judge Valentino has said he will not sequester the jury after closing arguments, but has instructed them that they may be sequestered during deliberations, if necessary.