The jury deliberating the penalty for the trial for two men convicted of the murder of Philadelphia police sergeant Stephen Liczbinski deadlocked today, leaving the defendants with automatic sentences of life in prison.
KYW’s Tony Hanson reports that after more than a dozen hours of deliberations spread over three days, the jury said it was unable to decide whether the men deserved the death penalty or life in prison.
The jury sent a note to the judge this afternoon that they are unable to decide unanimously on the penalty for either of the co-defendants, Eric Floyd and Levon Warner. The judge accepted the deadlock, which means that both men will automatically be sentenced to life in prison.
Floyd, Warner and a third man — Howard Cain — robbed a bank inside a supermarket, then Sgt. Liczbinski pursued them during the getaway. Cain shot and killed Liczbinski, and Cain was later shot and killed in another confrontation with officers.
The jury had already found that Floyd and Warner shared the “intent to kill,” and was considering during the penalty phase of the trial whether they would pay with their lives.
Prosecutors argued hard for the death penalty, pointing out that both men had a long history of violent crime and that this murder was of a police officer during the performance of his duties.
But defense attorneys, trying to save the lives of their clients, noted that neither was the actual trigger man and that both men were the product of difficult upbringings.
KYW’s Steve Tawa has reaction from some of the people closest to the emotional trial.
Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes cut jurors loose after she asked ‘whether further deliberations’ would move them ‘to a unanimous decision.’ Weary members of the panel, in that juror’s box since June, all shook their heads “no”.
Outside the Criminal Justice Center, the forewoman, Gina, said they had difficulty convincing 12 people to go in one direction, but most favored the death penalty:
“We were very, very close to a decision, something like 10-2.”
But it had to be unanimous. because of the deadlock, by law, the judge was required to impose life without parole sentences.
Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby, who spoke for the family, called Floyd and Warner ‘scumbags who deserved the death penalty’:
“The two cowards that were sentenced up there had their hands on the trigger just as much as the guy who was killed.”
He’s referring to Howard Cain, who used an assault rifle to ambush Sergeant Liczbsinki minutes after the 2008 bank heist in Port Richmond.