D.A. to appeal vacating death sentence for cop-killer

A Philadelphia judge, citing a constitutional restriction against executing people defined as mentally retarded, has vacated the death sentence of Edward Bracey, who was convicted of killing 1-year-old Officer Danny Boyle in 1991.
A Philadelphia judge, citing a constitutional restriction against executing people defined as mentally retarded, has vacated the death sentence of Edward Bracey, who was convicted of killing 1-year-old Officer Danny Boyle in 1991.
Posted: January 31, 2014

PHILADELPHIA The District Attorney's Office will appeal a Philadelphia judge's decision this month to vacate the death sentence of convicted cop-killer Edward Bracey.

A jury sentenced Bracey, now 50, to death in 1992 for shooting and killing rookie patrol officer Danny Boyle after a traffic pursuit in North Philadelphia. Bracey, a paroled felon, told police at the time that he shot Boyle to keep from going back to prison.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has twice affirmed Bracey's death sentence, rejecting claims that he had ineffective counsel. The appeal will send the case to the high court for a third time.

While endless appeals would likely prevent Bracey from ever being executed anyway, Boyle's family feels Bracey is angling for the chance to live his life in the less rigid confines of the general prison population.

In a terse ruling handed down Jan. 10, Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said Bracey had established that his intellectual functioning is "limited" or "subaverage."

Bracey will remain on death row throughout the duration of the appeal, said Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.

On Wednesday, Boyle's father, Patrick, a retired police detective, said he felt a sense of relief at the news of the appeal.

"After all the number of judges and appellate courts that have been involved over the years and with all of them denying it, for one Common Pleas judge to render a decision like this is totally unfair," Boyle said. "It shocked us. . . . The jury rendered their decision and it should be affirmed."

Police union president John McNesby agreed with the district attorney's decision.

"We're elated that they decided to take the appeal," McNesby said. "We look forward to righting the wrong."

During hearings in April, Bracey's attorneys tried a new tactic - this time arguing that Bracey is mentally retarded and could not be put to death under the law.

Prosecutors argued that IQ tests administered before the new appeal demonstrated that Bracey did not have a mental disability.

Moreover, they pointed out that at earlier appeals three expert witness had testified on behalf of Bracey that he did not have a mental disability.

Prosecutors argued Bracey likely did poorly on a more recent IQ test to exploit a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it illegal to execute anyone who is mentally impaired.


mnewall@phillynews.com

215-854-2759 @MikeNewall

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