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Trial of accused killer of NFL's Sean Taylor to begin in Miami

MIAMI (Reuters) - Jury selection is due to begin in Miami on Tuesday in the trial of the man accused of being the triggerman in the killing of Washington Redskins star defensive player Sean Taylor in 2007.

Taylor, a University of Miami standout chosen by the Redskins in the 2004 National Football League draft, was killed during an attempted burglary at his home south of Miami, in the Palmetto Bay area.

Intruders broke into Taylor's home and one of them shot him in the groin during a confrontation. He suffered massive blood loss and died at a hospital a day later.

Prosecutors have accused Eric Rivera, 23, of firing the fatal shot. He was charged with first-degree murder and armed burglary, and could face life in prison if convicted.

Rivera is one of five defendants charged with murder, home invasion and burglary and will be the first to face a jury.

One defendant, Venjah Hunte, 25, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2010 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Still awaiting trial are Charles Wardlow, 24; Jason Scott Mitchell, 25 and Timothy Brown, 22.

The defendants were arrested in Fort Myers, Florida, a few days after the shooting. Investigators said at that time that the intruders had planned to burglarize Taylor's house and were surprised to find him there.

The Miami Herald reported that jury selection was due to begin on Tuesday before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy, who has imposed a gag order on prosecutors and defense lawyers to reduce pretrial publicity that could make it harder to find unbiased jurors.

Courts were closed on Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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