Jurors have convicted Levon Warner and Eric Floyd of first-degree murder in the 2008 killing of Philadelphia police officer Stephen Liczbinski. KYW’s Tony Hanson and Steve Tawa were in the courtroom when the verdicts were read.
Liczbinski was killed during the robbery of a Port Richmond bank in May 2008. Attorneys for Floyd and Warner acknowledged their clients took part in the robbery but argued that they had nothing to do with the decision of accomplice Howard Cain to shoot the sergeant.
The jury, however, agreed with prosecutors that the two shared the intent to kill with Cain, who was shot and killed by police in another gunpoint confrontation later the same day.
The late sergeant’s wife caught her breath when the verdict was read. Police officers in the jammed courtroom then lined the center aisle and one yelled, “Make way,” as Michelle Liczbinski was escorted out.
Many of the uniformed police officers in the courtroom were first responders the day that Liczbinski was ambushed. They included a sergeant who secured the crime scene and an officer who, with the help of civilians, put the sergeant’s bullet-ridden body in a police car to get him to the hospital, knowing all along he was too mortally wounded to make it.
Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby spoke with reporters outside the Criminal Justice Center:
‘”The outcome was very pleasing to them. It doesn’t replace Steve, but it’s one part that helps the family with closure.”
Police commissioner Charles Ramsey says he believes the penalty for Floyd and Warner should be death:
“Oh, there is no question I am a proponent of the death penalty. There’s no question about that at all. In fact, I look forward to the day these two gentlement hook up with Howard Cain in hell. ”
Mayor Michael Nutter issued the following statement:
“At this time, our focus is on Sgt. Steve Liczbinski and his wife and family. Nothing that has happened today can take away the pain and anguish all of us have felt since May 3, 2008, when Steve was assassinated. My prayers and thoughts are with Steve’s wife, Michelle, and their children, Matt, Stephen, and Amber, and their families.
“We’ve lost a hero and a good man who, for 12 years, served the public with honor, bravery and fidelity.
“The jury will now be instructed by Common Pleas Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes to begin deliberations in the penalty phase to determine whether the two convicted defendants will face death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole. We all await the jury’s decision.”