Jurors say Bloomington man not guilty in shooting at northside Subway restaurant

A Bloomington man jailed since July on an attempted murder charge after a shooting at a Subway sandwich shop walked out of jail this week when jurors found him not guilty.

Sean M. Rivers, 23, was charged in July with attempted murder after he shot a 51-year-old man he said threatened and lunged at him after Rivers, a Subway employee, asked the man to move his truck that was illegally parked in front of the restaurant on Kinser Pike.

Witnesses said the man who was shot, who could not be reached for this story but was identified by police as J.D, Dyer, was belligerent and refusing to leave after being asked. Rivers said during a confrontation outside the restaurant, Dyer attacked him, so he got his handgun out of his backpack and fired one shot in self defense.

The bullet struck the man in the chest.

More in crime: Coroner identifies man killed at Bloomington house party; Linton man jailed

Rivers ran a half mile to his home, where police found and arrested him. His bond initially was $150,000 surety and $2,000 cash, which meant it would cost $17,000 to get him out of jail.

Rivers remains in jail for several months

Twelve days after his July 15 arrest, Monroe Circuit Judge Darcie Fawcett reduced the bond to $50,000 surety and $500 cash meaning $5,500 would get him released.

His family didn't have the money. Rivers stayed in jail. He was there for his 23rd birthday and missed his twins' first birthday party.

The Monroe County public defenders who worked on the case filed four motions asking for a further bond reduction or that Rivers be released on pre-trial monitoring as recommended by the probation department.

The judge denied each one.

This is an excerpt from a motion filed by public defender Justin Roddye asking the judge to reconsider the bond issue for Rivers:

"The Court made a statement something to the effect that it struggled with the idea of releasing the defendant because he shot someone in broad daylight and was a threat to the safety of the community," Roddye wrote.

"Respectfully, the defendant asserts that the testimony at trial will not support the court’s position that the defendant randomly shot someone in broad daylight for no reason."

Rivers said he shot the man in self-defense after he threatened and lunged at him.

Roddye argued Rivers posed no threat to anyone. "The court should reevaluate whether defendant poses a threat to community safety requiring his pretrial incarceration," the motion said.

One of his other attorneys agreed. "Sean has no criminal history and has never been in a fight in his life," public defender Kyle Dugger said.

"The Monroe County pretrial release department interviewed Sean in jail and categorized him as 'low' risk to reoffend or fail to appear. The evidence-based recommendation was for Sean to be released without posting bail and to be placed on pretrial case management."

Jury takes just two hours to acquit

An October trial had been postponed to Dec. 4, so his lawyers filed a motion requesting an early trial that sealed the date.

After two days of hearing evidence, 12 jurors deliberated about two hours before returning a not-guilty verdict on Dec. 6.

Had he been convicted of the Level 1 felony, Rivers faced a prison sentence of 20 to 40 years. Instead he went home after nearly five months behind bars for a crime a jury determined he didn't commit.

"I am so thankful that he has been vindicated and that he is home with his family," Dugger said. "But it is terrifying, the risk he had to take for his freedom."

Contact H-T reporter Laura Lane at llane@heraldt.com or 812-318-5967.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Sean Rivers acquitted in Bloomington Subway shooting