Alleged killer of policeman was on parole

Howard Cain had a history of fighting with and fleeing police. He had served 9 years for robbery.

Posted: May 06, 2008

The man who police said killed Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski was under parole supervision for a 1996 Philadelphia robbery after serving the minimum of a 9- to 18-year prison sentence, according to state officials.

Howard Cain, 33, is alleged to have fired five shots from a high-powered Chinese SKS rifle at Liczbinski in a confrontation in Port Richmond after a bank robbery Saturday.

Liczbinski, 39, died at Temple University Hospital from multiple gunshot wounds. Cain, whose last known residence was in North Philadelphia, was cornered by police in Feltonville and fatally shot.

Police arrested Cain's alleged accomplice, Levon Warner, 39, and are searching for a third man, Eric DeShann Floyd, 33, who is considered armed and dangerous.

Yesterday, Cain's body was identified at the city morgue by his family. According to Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the Medical Examiner's Office, they referred to him as Howard View, one of his aliases.

Cain entered the state prison system Nov. 12, 1997, to serve a 9- to 18-year sentence for robbery, said Susan McNaughton, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

On Sept. 5, 2006, having served just shy of half his minimum sentence, Cain was sent to Lycoming House, a halfway facility at 1712 Point Breeze Ave. in South Philadelphia, McNaughton said.

He was granted parole at his first hearing before the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.

On Dec. 12 of that year, Cain walked out of Lycoming House a free man. He was, however, subject to parole supervision until 2015.

Leo Dunn, a spokesman for the parole board, did not know how frequently Cain was required to meet with his parole officer, but Cain had to follow a series of requirements to maintain his freedom, including taking drug tests and avoiding alcohol.

Cain's robbery sentence in 1996 stemmed from a string of armed robberies of state liquor stores in West and Southwest Philadelphia. His court-appointed lawyer in the case, Steven Laver, said Cain and two codefendants were accused of robbing at least four liquor stores. "In two of these, there were guns, but no shots fired," Laver said.

Cain was found guilty a year later in one case and pleaded guilty in another.

He had a history of fighting and fleeing police, court records show. A West Philadelphia woman who knew Cain's family but who did not want her name used said he was one of five siblings and used to box when he was younger.

The owner of the house in North Philadelphia where Cain lived, who also did not want his name used, said Cain had his own road-service business, helping motorists with car problems.

The landlord said Cain moved into his rowhouse in the 600 block of West Clearfield Street about four months ago. He said Cain was studying Islam, but he added, "That doesn't mean religion made him do what he did."

The landlord said Cain had a pregnant spouse. "No one gains from this," the man said. "Everyone's lost."

In 1993, Cain stole a car in West Philadelphia and crashed it into a fence after a brief police chase. He was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in the city jail.

In 1996, he was stopped by police and reportedly began punching the officers before running away. He was caught and sentenced to no more than 23 months in the city jail.

At various times when he was arrested, he gave aliases such as Cameron Washington, Howard View and Kevin G. Williams.

Cain appeared to move from address to address and did not list a job any of the times he was arrested. Court files show he attended West Philadelphia High School and got as far as the 11th grade. He later claimed to have earned a GED.

He indicated in 1996 that he had a child who was not living with him.

Cain's alleged accomplices in Saturday's bank robbery also had convictions for robbery. Warner was sentenced in 1997 to five to 10 years. Floyd was sentenced to one to five years for a 1994 robbery.


Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com.


Inquirer staff writer Jennifer Lin contributed to this article.

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