He told Common Pleas Court Judge Shelley Robins New that Billy Panas was not perfect, but that he was a good son, a "mini me" of his father.
He told the judge he felt bad about not being strong enough to visit his son's grave. Seeing his son's final resting place, he said, would make him violent, and he doesn't want that.
Good memories of his sports-loving son make him cry hardest, Panas said.
And he spoke of losing his 25-year job as a supervisor because he was unable to work full days after his son's murder.
"All of this is because of the drunken, selfish, heartless actions of Mr. Tepper. The pain we are going through is so hard, I wouldn't even wish this on you," Panas said to Tepper.
Tepper, 46, dressed in an olive-green polo shirt and wrinkled khaki pants, declined to speak.
"Every homicide case is a tragedy, but this one more than most," New said.
She told the Panas family that she suspected that Billy would want them to remember his "laughter, love, and friendship. He would not want you to live in pain.
"Let this be a closure so that you can go forward."
New then sentenced Tepper to life in state prison without parole for the Nov. 21, 2009, handgun murder of his young neighbor.
In addition, New sentenced Tepper to one to two years in prison for possession of an instrument of crime, and one to two years for recklessly endangering another person. She ordered Tepper to pay $12,686 in restitution to the Panas family for funeral and other expenses.
Karen Panas asked New for something the judge could not grant: that Tepper be put in solitary confinement twice a year, on her son's birthday and the anniversary of his death.
"I wanted him to be reminded of that day, of what he did to our son," she said after the hearing.
Tepper, who was a civil affairs officer with the city Police Department for 16 years, shot Panas once in the chest during the end of a melee that broke out in front of the off-duty officer's Port Richmond home.
After Panas and one of Tepper's relatives had finished fighting, Tepper, who was legally drunk, pointed a handgun at Panas, who dared him to shoot.
During Tepper's trial in February, defense attorney Fortunato Perri argued that Tepper had been jumped by Panas' friends and merely defended himself.
After leaving the courthouse with a group of about 40 relatives and friends Wednesday, William Panas Sr. said he could not forgive Tepper now but maybe could someday.
"That's up to my Lord," he said.
Lauren Panas, 26, the victim's sister, said making the loss of her brother harder to take was the fact that he never met her 16-month-old daughter, Madison Billie, whom she named in part after him.
"He was such a kind, loving young man," Lauren Panas said. "He didn't deserve this."
Contact Mensah M. Dean at 215-568-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.