William Rivera, Pennsylvania

Updated: Monday, July 15, 2019  9:35 am EST

William Rivera was scheduled to be executed at 7pm EST, on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at the State Correction Institute Rockview, in Rockview, Pennsylvania. William’s execution has been stayed. William is convicted of the murder of Tae Hun a/k/a Kumok Kang on September 25, 1995, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. William has spent the last 21 years of his life on Pennsylvania’s death row.

Mr. and Mrs. Kumok Kang owned a jewelry store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On September 25, 1995, they closed the store as usual and headed to their parked station wagon. Mr. Kang was carrying a manila envelop contained an x-ray. The Kangs were observed leaving the store by William Rivera and his co-defendants. It was decided that there must be money in the envelope and they agreed to rob the couple.

Mr. and Mrs. Kang entered their station wagon and began driving. When stopped at a red light intersection, the three men approached the car and smashed a window. Someone yelled for Mr. Kang to exit the vehicle, with a gun poking through the shattered glass. Rivera then entered the vehicle and sat in the driver’s seat, beginning to move the car. Another man opened the passenger door and yelled at Mrs. Kang to exit the vehicle, which she did while the car was moving. He also snatched her purse before they took off in the vehicle.


Mr. Kang had been shot four times and was pronounced dead later that evening at a hospital.


The robbers went to the home of one of their girlfriends and turned on the news. Rivera was heard to make the comment “that’s what we did,” after viewing a report about the shooting and robbery.


Nearly a year later, Rivera waived his constitutional rights and gave a statement to police, admitting to being the shooter, however, he claimed the gun accidentally went off during a struggle with the deceased.


At Rivera’s trial, there were several witnesses who testified, including those who saw him shoot the victim, who was not fighting back. Rivera was convicted and sentenced to death. One of his co-defendants, Roberty Ortiz-Bonilla was also convicted and given a life sentence. The third co-defendant was acquitted of all charges.


Rivera’s execution has been stayed by the US District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania. Additionally,  on Friday, February 13, 2015, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a moratorium on executions in the state, until he receives and reviews a report on capital punishment in the state, a report which was ordered in 2011.  In his announcement, he called the death penalty in Pennsylvania a "flawed system," "ineffective," "unjust," and "expensive."  Read more about the announcement here.  


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Mr. Kang. Please pray for strength for the family of William Rivera. Please pray that William may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.



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