The jury deciding the fate of two convicted Philadelphia cop killers has adjourned their death penalty deliberations for the weekend.
KYW’s Tony Hanson reports from the Criminal Justice Center that the jurors have already decided that Eric Floyd and Levon Warner are guilty of murder in the first degree for the 2008 death of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski (right), even though a third man — Howard Cain, now dead — pulled the trigger.
Now, that same jury is deciding the penalty for Floyd and Warner — whether they will go to prison for life or die by lethal injection. Jurors deliberated for about four hours today before adjourning for the weekend.
The judge has instructed the jurors to weigh the “aggravating” and “mitigating” factors in the case. Aggravating factors — mostly conceded by the defense — include the shooting of a police officer in the performance of his duties, endangering others, and the long history of violent crimes by both defendants.
The defense has argued several mitigating factors, emphasizing that neither Floyd nor Warner was the actually triggerman, and also stressing the upbringing of both men, which their attorneys argue predisposed them to a life of crime.
The conventional wisdom among courthouse observers is that the death penalty is generally given only to the person who actually fired the gun; death penalties even for shooters are relatively few.
But if there is a case when a murderer’s cohorts get the death penalty, this could be it. According to the evidence, each of these defendants played a crucial role in Liczbinski’s murder although they did not pull the trigger.
The evidence indicated that as Liczbinski pursued the three men in a car following a bank robbery, Floyd, the driver, said, “Bang him,” and stopped the car. Warner, in the back seat, was holding an assault rifle which he handed to Cain (right), who opened fire and killed Liczbinski.
Cain was shot and killed by police a short time later in a subsequent confrontation.
Stay tuned to KYW Newsradio 1060 for first word of the verdicts in this riveting case.
And listen to Tony Hanson’s special podcast, “The Timeline of A Murder Case”: