2 who didn't shoot cop are guilty of murder, D.A. says

Posted: June 30, 2010

Though Eric Deshann Floyd and Levon Terrell Warner didn't fatally shoot a Philadelphia police sergeant after robbing a bank in May 2008, they are just as guilty as their dead accomplice, who pulled the trigger, the prosecutor told jurors yesterday as the defendants' murder trial began.

"You don't have to pull the trigger. You don't even have to be present when the killing is committed. You don't have to even know when it occurs. You just have to be on the same wavelength," Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy said in his opening statement.

Conroy stressed that Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski's May 3, 2008, death was an intentional, deliberate, premeditated first-degree murder by the defendants.

Their accomplice, Howard Cain, 35, was killed by police shortly after he used a stolen SKS military assault rifle to riddle the officer's body with bullets blocks from the Port Richmond bank the group had just robbed.

Moments before the shooting, as Liczbinski followed their stolen getaway Jeep, someone in the Jeep shouted, "Bang him! Bang him!" and Warner handed Cain the rifle, Conroy said. After Floyd stopped the car at Schiller and Almond streets, Conroy said, Cain exited and unleashed a barrage of nine bullets at Liczbinski.

The District Attorney's Office will seek the death penalty if Floyd, 35, and Warner, 41, are found guilty of first-degree murder.

Among the capacity courtroom audience at the Criminal Justice Center were the slain officer's wife, Michelle, and three children, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and District Attorney Seth Williams.

Floyd watched from jail via closed-circuit TV, having been barred for attacking one of his attorneys during jury selection.

While conceding that Floyd and Warner had robbed the Bank of America branch inside the ShopRite at Castor and Aramingo avenues, attorneys for the two argued that robbery does not equal first-degree murder.

Gary Server, Warner's attorney, questioned Conroy's contention that his client handed Cain the rifle, noting that no DNA from his client was found on the weapon. Server asked the jury to decide the case based on the facts and to "put aside your sympathies" for Liczbinski, whom he said had served with "valor."

Attorney Earl Kauffman told the jury that his client, Floyd, was guilty of second-degree murder - a killing committed in the commission of another felony, such as a robbery.

"All the things that he did illegal, that's what you find him guilty of. But what he didn't do is shoot Stephen Liczbinski, and he did not have specific intent to kill," Kauffman said.

The first two witnesses called by Conroy were victimized by the defendants before the officer's slaying. Anthony Brown, a Germantown marijuana dealer, told how the defendants and two other men - dressed like Muslim women - invaded his apartment on March 31, 2008, stealing at gunpoint jewelry, $4,000, four pounds of marijuana, cell phones and the assault rifle used to kill Liczbinski. Cabbie Aaron Savage tearfully told how the defendants and accomplices - in the same outfits - stole his Jeep at gunpoint on May 2, 2008 - the day before Liczbinski was slain.