Harford County jury begins deliberating murder-for-hire case BTC

December 12, 1991|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Evening Sun Staff

A Harford County jury began deliberating today in the murder-for-hire trial of bar owner Giovanni Rivieri, who allegedly wanted to have his ex-girlfriend assaulted and her current lover killed.

The defense called no witnesses, including Rivieri, 60, owner of the Bush Valley Inn in Abingdon. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of solicitation to commit murder.

Assistant State's Attorney Diana A. Brooks told the Harford Circuit Court jury Rivieri "stalked" his ex-girlfriend and her lover for a yearbefore trying to hire a hit man to kill him and assault the woman.

"He had their routine down to the minute," Brooks said in her opening statement yesterday. She said Rivieri was willing to pay for the crime in cash, jewelry or cocaine.

The prosecution's key witness was a former undercover state trooper, who told the jury he posed as a hit man in the investigation. The trooper played taped conversations that he said were between himself and the defendant. A voice that the trooper identified as that of Rivieri was heard to say that the intended male victim, Ronald Soto, 53, a truck driver from Levittown, Pa., should be choked and tied up before having his penis cut off.

But defense attorneys, through cross-examination, tried to show that Rivieri never specifically asked to have Soto killed.

"The solicitation was done by the state," defense attorney Russell J. White contended during his opening statement.

White tried to show that Rivieri's first meeting with the undercover trooper was arranged by a police informant, not the defendant. Rivieri never called the trooper, he said.

Rivieri has been held without bond at the county detention center since his arrest in May on charges of solicitation of murder and solicitation of assault. If convicted on the murder charge, he would face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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