Rivera, who was listed as a Lawrence resident on witness lists in Cruz’s trial, was a reluctant witness. According to his grand jury testimony in November 2007, weeks after the shooting, Rivera said that he was compelled to testify to the grand jury.
Several days into Cruz’s trial in October 2009, Rivera’s attorney, Michael Seddon, gave a hand-written note to Ranta, saying Rivera, who was in jail at that time, did not want to testify and that “the police paid him $1,000 to testify. This was prior to his testimony at the grand jury.”
But Rivera also was a key witness, one of only a few who saw the actual shooting, according to grand jury testimony. Two of Rivera’s brothers, Alejandro and Jamie, and several close friends were in a yard off the street when the shooting occurred and ran to the street only after the shots were fired, according to the grand jury testimony of several of Rivera’s friends and siblings.
David Rivera was sitting in a car on Farnham Street in the evening of Oct. 30, 2007, when a shot rang out, according to his grand jury testimony. He turned, looked out the back of the car, and saw two people standing on the corner of Farnham and Phillips. One person pointed a gun at the other before firing another two or three shots.
He did not say to the grand jury that he recognized either person while the shooting was taking place, but testified that he made a U-turn in the car, drove to the corner, and found Cruz there bragging about shooting Bautista.
“He was one of only two or three who identified my client as being the shooter, so it was a pretty significant witness for the Commonwealth,” said Ranta, who also said he believed the prosecutor in the case, Jessica Connors, did not know about the payment before the trial.