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    Police still puzzled by man's shooting

    He was found dead in his Largo home Nov. 14. Whether it is a homicide or a suicide is unclear.

    By CHRIS TISCH

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 10, 2001


    LARGO -- Nearly three months have passed since the shooting death of Edwin Rivera, and police investigators say they still don't know whether his death was a homicide or a suicide.

    Rivera's sister discovered him Nov. 14 in his home at 1562 Belleair Road. His daughter told the Times her father killed himself, but police classified it as a suspicious death.

    It has remained that way ever since.

    Largo police Lt. Michael Stephens said the detective working on the case has not determined whether Rivera died at his own hand or at the hand of another. Stephens said it is not a case where the police think they know what happened and just aren't saying. He said they simply aren't sure.

    He said studies are being done on the bullet trajectory and the angle of Rivera's wound to help determine whether it was homicide or suicide.

    "I can't say yet because our tests are inconclusive," Stephens said. "It's just one of those weird cases that you just need to have all your ducks in a row."

    He did not know how long the studies would take or why they have taken months to complete.

    The detective in charge of the case was not working Friday, but has told the Times that when information can be released about the shooting, it will be clear why a determination of suicide or homicide cannot be made yet.

    "I really don't believe (the detective) is being close-mouthed on this," Stephens said. "I think he's just being incredibly thorough."

    Stephens said State Attorney's Office prosecutors have been consulted during the investigation, which he said is routine in a mysterious death. He said there are no suspects in the shooting of Rivera, a 38-year-old father and husband.

    Neighbors reported hearing loud music coming from Rivera's home the morning he was found. The music was soft rock, unusual because it was loud and because Rivera usually listened to Latin music but never at that hour.

    Acquaintances said Rivera's wife, Diana, left him at the end of February after a fight. She took their five children and four dogs.

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