By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A former Philadelphia police officer has been convicted of the first-degree murder of a Port Richmond neighbor during a curbside mêlée on a summer evening in 2009.
And despite the judge’s warning that no outbursts would be tolerated when the verdict was read, shouting and screams broke out in the packed Courtroom 607 at the Criminal Justice Center as Frank Tepper’s conviction was announced just before noon Thursday.
The courtroom was packed with family members of both the defendant and the victim, William Panas Jr. As soon as the shouting began, the judge ordered Tepper’s wife and daughter removed from the courtroom. The wife went limp and had to be carried out by court officers. They also had to restrain the daughter, who persisted in flailing her arms and striking those near her.
“It ain’t gonna bring our boy back, but you know what, my son is looking down right now saying ‘good job mom and dad and community, thank you for standing behind me when I shot down and murdered,’” Panas’ father, Billy Panas Sr. said outside after the verdict was read.
Among friends and family of the victim, there were tears as several people broke down and cried.
There were at least 10 deputies in the courtroom, plus other police officers, and all they had their hands full restoring order in the courtroom.
Tepper was also convicted of reckless endangerment and possessing a weapon of crime (see related stories). The judge said he would immediately move to the sentencing phase of the trial. The first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life prison sentence.