Cletus Rivera was sentenced to death by the State of Pennsylvania for the murder of a police officer. According to court documents Cletus Rivera would shoot and kill the undercover officer in Reading. Cletus Rivera would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Cletus Rivera 2022
Parole Number: 675FQ
Date of Birth: 02/10/1982
Height: 5′ 08″
Current Location: PHOENIX
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Tension filled the Berks County courtroom when jurors deciding Cletus C. Rivera’s fate returned to announce their verdict Thursday morning.
More than 30 sheriff’s deputies were in the courtroom, many in the aisle that separates the prosecution and defense.
Jurors apparently had reached a verdict, but Judge Stephen B. Lieberman told them to continue deliberating because there was an error on the verdict slip.
Jurors returned a few minutes later — about 11:30 — to announce their verdict for the Reading man they convicted last Friday of murdering Reading police Officer Scott A. Wertz on Aug. 6, 2006.
Lieberman asked for silence from the spectators who had packed the courtroom.
“If there are any delays, I will hold the people responsible in contempt of court and punish them appropriately,” Lieberman said.
The jury announced its decision that Rivera be sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Rivera lowered his head.
Wertz’s friends and relatives looked relieved.
The Northampton County jury was escorted from the courtroom and immediately boarded a bus to return home. Jurors were selected in Northampton County because of extensive publicity in Berks. They had been bused daily to Berks for the trial.
Jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days before rendering their decision Thursday.
Later, Wertz’s widow, Tricia L., thanked Senior Deputy Attorney Generals K. Kenneth Brown and Jonnelle Eshbach, sheriff’s deputies and everyone else who helped with the case.
“I feel relief and happiness,” Wertz said. “Justice has been served. He died doing his job. After two years we can breathe a little easier. He was more than just a police officer. He was a father, a son and a brother.”
Wertz’s son Jared S., 14, said he was relieved the case was over and pleased with the outcome. His 9-year-old brother, Joshua A., said he was glad Rivera received the death sentence.
Rivera’s family declined comment.
During the formal sentencing that followed the jury’s verdict, Lieberman imposed an additional sentence of eight years and four months to 19 years in prison.
Lieberman said the community lost a fine public servant in Wertz, a nine-year veteran.
He noted that Rivera has led a life of crime since he was 13.
“Even though the commonwealth has spent thousands of dollars on your rehabilitation as a juvenile, you continue to commit crimes,” Lieberman said.
Rivera’s court-appointed attorneys, Jay M. Nigrini and Richard P. Reynolds, will appeal the conviction and sentence to the state Supreme Court.
Nigrini said it was clear the jury gave the life-or-death decision a great deal of consideration.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed for Cletus,” Nigrini said. “We respect the jury’s verdict. They thought long and hard before making their decision.”
Nigrini said he did not regret putting Rivera on the witness stand.
Rivera testified he intended to kill Wertz because he thought the officer was going to shoot him. He said he didn’t know Wertz was a policeman.
Wertz, 40, and Officer Malcolm F. Eddinger were part of an undercover auto-theft detail when they heard reports on the police radio of shots being fired in a parking lot at Eighth and Walnut streets near City Hall.
Eddinger said he and Wertz chased Rivera after they saw Rivera with a gun.
Eddinger said he saw Rivera shoot Wertz.
Witnesses said Wertz was shot in the chest and buttocks.