Jury to Decide Life or Death for Convicted Cop Killers
Cain, Floyd and Warner
Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix
August 02, 2010
PHILADELPHIA – If all goes as the prosecution hopes, a Philadelphia jury as early as this week will make Eric Deshann Floyd and Levon T. Warner the 221st and 222nd death-row inmates in Pennsylvania.
Convicted last week by the same jury for the first-degree murder of police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski in the aftermath of a 2008 bank robbery, Floyd, 35, and Warner, 41, today are scheduled to enter the penalty phase of their capital-punishment trial.
The process likely will take most of this week, Common Pleas Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes told the jury Wednesday.
Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy will be first to present his case for why the defendants should be executed.
In addition to discussing “aggravating circumstances” that warrant death sentences, Conroy may call Liczbinski’s widow, Michelle, and their three adult children to give victim-impact statements.
He’ll be followed by the defense attorneys, who will present “mitigating circumstances” to try to convince the jury that their clients should be sentenced to life in prison.
Floyd’s attorney, Earl Kauffman, will present his case later today or tomorrow, followed by Warner’s attorneys, Gary Server and W. Fred Harrison Jr.
Conroy will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of “aggravating circumstances” and convince the jury that they outweigh the defense team’s “mitigating circumstances.”
Among the aggravators Conroy may present under state law are: the defendants murdered a police officer while on duty; they have a history of violent felony convictions; they committed a killing while perpetrating a felony; and they put others at grave risk of death while committing a crime.
Among the state’s eight mitigating circumstances are: a defendant’s capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct being substantially impaired; a defendant being under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance; a defendant playing only a minor role in a murder; and any other evidence concerning a defendant’s character and record.
Warner’s attorneys, before the trial opened, indicated that the former boxer suffers from brain damage and lacks the ability to think clearly while under duress and stress.
It was not clear what strategy Kauffman would take on Floyd’s behalf.
During the trial – which spanned four weeks – Conroy argued that while the defendants did not shoot Liczbinski, they are just as responsible as their accomplice, gunman Howard Cain, who was shot dead by police, because they shared with him the specific intent to kill anyone who got in their way of robbing the Bank of America in Port Richmond.
The defense attorneys contended that their clients only meant to rob the bank and played no part in the murder.