Man gets 66 years in death of sister's boyfriend

Convicted killer Jesus Rivera testifies during trial's punishment phase

SAN ANTONIO – Less than 24 hours after a jury found Jesus Rivera, 21, guilty of murder, he was sentenced to 66 years in prison in connection with the crime.

Before the sentence was handed down, he still claimed he did it out of self-defense.

Rivera is accused of shooting his sister's boyfriend, Ryan Yearly, 21, to death in 2012, but during his testimony last week, he said he feared for his life, claiming Yearley came at him with a knife.

"I know the truth and it was self-defense," Rivera testified Tuesday.

On Monday, the jury found him guilty.

Prosecutors said Rivera shot and killed Yearley on Thanksgiving morning 2012, then hid the body in a garage adjacent West Side home he shared with his sister and Yearley.

He then forced his sister to clean up the blood, according to earlier testimony, and ran when police were called later.

"I never wanted to hurt Ryan," Rivera testified. "It was a split-second decision."

Asked by his attorney Joe Stenberg what he would say to Yearley if he had the opportunity to speak with him today, Rivera said, "I would say I love you buddy, I'm going to miss you."

Rivera said that he talks to Yearly "in his mind" daily.

"'I'm sorry,' I tell him. 'And I know that you have forgiven me,'" Rivera testified.

One witness who refused to talk forgiveness was Yearley's mother.

Marilyn Yearley-Perez asked the jury to sentence Rivera to life in prison as she talked of the impact her son's murder has had on her life.

"A piece of me died. My heart is gone," Yearley-Perez testified. "I don't even know what it is like to live anymore."

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