Cop Killers Spared Death Penalty Due to Hung Jury
Eric DeShann Floyd (top left) and Levon T. Warner were convicted of murder but spared the death penalty in the killing of Philadelphia Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski.
Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix
August 18, 2010
PHILADELPHIA – Two convicted killers of a Philadelphia police officer were spared the death penalty today after a jury deliberating the men’s fate declared it was deadlocked.
Eric DeShann Floyd, 35, and Levon T. Warner, 41, – two bank robbers whose partner killed Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski – will serve life in prison without parole in the May 3, 2008 shooting of the 39-year-old officer.
The jury of seven men and five women was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Just before 3:30, the jurors returned to the courtroom. The Forewoman announced they were deadlocked and that further deliberations would not help.
Some jurors were red faced, shaking their heads from side-to-side as if angry. Liczbinski’s widow sat grim faced as she wiped away her tears.
Warner’s mother and wife also cried on hearing the news.
The jurors appeared to have struggled with the decision whether to impose the death penalty on Floyd and Warner even though neither was the shooter. Using conspiracy law, the jury on July 28 found Floyd and Warner guilty of first-degree murder, determining that both were as culpable as coconspirator Howard Cain, who shot Liczbinski as he pursued their car after a Port Richmond bank robbery.
Cain, 33, was killed by police in a confrontation later that day.
After speaking privately with the jurors, who were then dismissed and left the Criminal Justice Center, Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes moved immediately to sentence Floyd and Warner.
In addition to the life sentence without parole for each, which she was required to impose by law because of the deadlock, Hughes tacked on consecutive sentences for robbery, conspiracy and gun counts on which the jury also convicted the pair.
Floyd was sentenced to life plus 90 to 180 years; Warner, who was not involved in a carjacking with Floyd, got a sentence of life plus 67.5 to 125 years.
This means that should the legislature ever grant parole to people convicted of first or second degree murder, and if some parole board recommended parole for either, they would then have to serve the consecutive sentences.
The judge also warned both that she would oppose any commutation of the sentences by some future governor: “I will oppose it until I draw my last breath.”
Hughes had choice words for each. To Floyd: “You are unredeemable, a coward of the lowest order.” By disguising himself during the robbery as a woman in full Muslim garb, the judge said, “you chose to disrespect the faith you claim to uphold.” She said that people “cross the street to avoid Muslim women because of you.”
Of Warner: “I don’t understand you, I really don’t, because you’re not stupid and I don’t believe you have brain damage. But I don’t know why you made the choice you did. I don’t know why you chose to walk away from Denise Monroe, a woman who loves you and four children you are responsible for, and take up with these people.”
In deciding the men’s sentences, the jurors followed a complicated process to determine whether the aggravating factors in Liczbinski’s shooting warranted the death penalty, or whether they were mitigated by Floyd and Warner’s actions during the crime and their backgrounds, resulting in life prison terms.
The relevant aggravating factors: the premeditated killing of an officer on duty, endangering the public while committing a murder, and the pair’s long histories of violent crimes.
Among the mitigating factors: the pair’s confessions and their deprived childhoods in environments of alcohol and drug use, crime, and emotional and physical abuse.