Jurors weigh fate of man charged in killing of 6-year-old

Osvaldo Rivera of Camden is on trial in the killing of a boy, 6, who died fighting off an attack on his sister, then 12.
Osvaldo Rivera of Camden is on trial in the killing of a boy, 6, who died fighting off an attack on his sister, then 12. (Camden Courier-Post)
Posted: July 12, 2014

Jurors began deliberating Thursday in the trial of a man accused of killing a 6-year-old boy - later hailed as a hero - and attacking the boy's sister at knifepoint in Camden.

The slaying drew national outrage in 2012. Authorities said Osvaldo Rivera broke into a Ware Street home that Sept. 2 and slashed the throat of Dominick Andujar. Dominick, police said, was trying to stop Rivera from assaulting his 12-year-old sister, Amber, who was on the living room couch.

Dominick's actions allowed his sister, who also was slashed in the throat, to escape and ask neighbors for help.

Rivera, 33, of Camden - nicknamed "Popeye" - was indicted by a grand jury last year on a litany of charges, ranging from felony murder to aggravated sexual assault.

In closing arguments this week, Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah said scientific evidence corroborated Amber's account of the attack.

"Her testimony is the primary evidence," Shah said Thursday outside the courtroom.

Marcia Soast, Rivera's attorney, said prosecutors had been unable to provide evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" for several counts on the indictment.

"It's a difficult case," Soast said outside the courtroom.

Dominick's mother, Debbie Burgos, could not be reached Thursday for comment.

In addition to Dominick's slaying, Rivera has been charged with molesting a 2-year-old boy in August 2012 in the same South Camden neighborhood. He is being tried separately in that case.

The night Dominick was killed, a manhunt ensued in the neighborhood, where Rivera was friendly with some residents. Within 15 hours, he was arrested.

"I knew there was a monster in my city," Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson later said.

The killing came two weeks after another that attracted national attention: Police said a mother decapitated her 2-year-old son before fatally stabbing herself.

The year ended with 67 homicides, a record for Camden.


mboren@phillynews.com

856-779-3829 @borenmc

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