Accused cop killer takes stand; jury can now hear his criminal history

Posted: July 22, 2010

The long, sordid criminal history of Eric Deshann Floyd was expected to be laid out today for the Common Pleas jury that could decide if he and co-defendant Levon T. Warner should be sentenced to death for their roles in the slaying of a Philadelphia cop.

That history includes three armed robberies of Turkey Hill stores in Lancaster County a decade ago, his February 2008 escape from a Berks County halfway house - where he was sent after serving seven years for the robberies - and a string of other robberies and carjackings committed in the weeks leading up to the May 3, 2008, fatal shooting of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski.

Floyd, 35, who drove the getaway Jeep following a bank robbery that preceded the killing, allowed the prosecutor to open the door to his criminal past by taking the witness stand yesterday.

Had Floyd not taken the stand - as defense attorney Earl Kauffman and Common Pleas Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes advised him Tuesday - rules would have required that his past crimes remain hidden from the jury.

Floyd's time on the witness stand came across as absurd, as he denied even being himself.

While being questioned by Kauffman, Floyd said he was sleeping the morning Liczbinski was shot multiple times by Howard Cain, one of Floyd's two accomplices. (Police killed Cain later that day.)

During cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy painted a picture of Floyd as a violent criminal who possessed "the intent to kill" Liczbinski. Floyd, however, did not make things easy for Conroy, who at times raised his voice to the defendant.

Floyd denied taking part in the robbery of the Port Richmond Bank of America branch, driving the Jeep that gunman Cain emerged from to fatally shoot Liczbinski, helping to carjack the getaway Jeep the day before the slaying and taking part in two Philadelphia home invasions weeks before the slaying.

Floyd stopped speaking after Conroy continued to press him about his involvement in the crimes.

"Mr. Floyd, do you intend to answer the commonwealth's questions?" Hughes asked.

"I'm done answering his questions," Floyd replied.

Hughes then ordered that his testimony be stricken from the record. Hughes later reversed her ruling at Conroy's request and said Floyd's testimony would be put back on the record for the jury to consider.

Floyd and Warner, 41, could be sentenced to death if convicted of first-degree murder. Warner informed Hughes on Tuesday that he will not testify. He reaffirmed that decision yesterday. He has served time for armed robbery.

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