Neither Eric DeShann Floyd nor Levon T. Warner fired a shot the day Philadelphia Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski had his fatal encounter in Port Richmond with a trio of fleeing bank robbers.
But applying conspiracy law to reach two first-degree murder verdicts, a Philadelphia jury on Wednesday ruled that Floyd, the driver of the getaway car, and Warner, a backseat passenger, were as culpable as triggerman Howard Cain, 33, who was killed by police after Liczbinski's murder on May 3, 2008.
On Monday, the same Common Pleas Court jury will return to the city's Criminal Justice Center to decide whether Floyd, 35, and Warner, 41, deserve to share Cain's fate - but at the hands of a state executioner.
In Pennsylvania, a jury that delivers a first-degree murder verdict must decide whether the person should be executed by lethal injection or spend life in prison without parole.
With Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes' gag order still in place, the verdicts got a muted reaction from principals on both sides of the courtroom.
Through a spokesman, the Liczbinski family declined to speak to reporters. Warner's wife, Denise, and his mother, Dolores, also did not comment.
Among police and law enforcement personnel, however, the verdicts - and findings of guilty on a long roll of accompanying charges - were celebrated with smiles, handshakes, and hugs.
"I look forward to the day when these two gentlemen once again hook up with Howard Cain in hell," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey told reporters afterward. He had attended the trial several days a week since testimony began June 29.
"My personal opinion," Ramsey said, "is they should die."
District Attorney Seth Williams said Floyd and Warner had joined Cain's bank-robbery scheme and agreed to kill anyone who got in their way.
"Howard Cain was held accountable that day on the streets," Williams said. "The other two defendants were held accountable today by the jury."
Liczbinski, 39, a 12-year veteran of the department, was shot and killed four months after Ramsey was appointed head of the 6,500-member police force.
At the time, the department still was in shock from the killings of one officer in 2006 and another in 2007. In the next nine months, four more police officers would be killed in the line of duty.
Beginning Monday afternoon, the jury of seven men and five women deliberated about eight hours, returning with the verdicts shortly before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to a courtroom filled beyond its 171-person capacity.
Warner was the first up. The tall, muscular, onetime heavyweight boxer stood and faced the jury forewoman, who intoned: "We find him guilty of murder in the first degree."
Warner's wife sobbed, "Oh, God," and buried her face in her hands.
Her weeping became steady and louder, and a sheriff's deputy told her she would have to leave. She was led out crying, "Please, please."
Warner, who did not appear to react to the verdicts, eventually turned to peek at his wife as she was escorted from the courtroom. His mother, who had been in court every day of the trial, sat quietly.
Michelle Liczbinski, widow of the officer, wiped tears from her eyes. Sons Matthew and Stephen and daughter Amber were on one side of her, Ramsey on the other.
Floyd - banished from court June 9 for disruptive behavior that culminated in his punching one of his lawyers - watched the verdict on closed-circuit television in a holding cell. Defense attorney Earl G. Kauffman stood and faced the jury in his stead.
Hughes told the jury to return Monday for the start of testimony in the trial's penalty phase, which she said likely would take all week. The delay was due to scheduling conflicts of several expert witnesses whom defense lawyers want to testify.
Kauffman is expected to argue that in Pennsylvania a life sentence means exactly that, so there is no need to further protect society by executing Floyd.
Warner's attorneys, W. Fred Harrison Jr. and Gary S. Server, have said they will introduce expert medical testimony that Warner sustained permanent brain damage during his brief career in the ring.
They will use that testimony to argue that Warner had a "diminished capacity" to think independently and appreciate the seriousness of the armed-robbery scheme. He was recruited at the last minute by Cain after Cain's uncle had balked at participating.
In deciding whether to sentence one or both of the men to death, the jury will weigh evidence of aggravating factors warranting the death penalty and mitigating factors supporting a life sentence.
Among the aggravating factors are the murder of a police officer and the fact that the killing occurred during a serious felony. Mitigating factors would include Warner's claim of brain damage or other facts about his or Floyd's backgrounds or childhoods.
With defense attorneys conceding Floyd's and Warner's involvement in the robbery and chase that ended in Liczbinski's death, the jury was confronted with deciding the degree of homicide: first, a premeditated, malicious killing; second, a killing that occurs during another serious felony; or third, an unintended killing during an assault.
In questions for the judge Tuesday, the jurors seemed to have rejected the third degree, but were choosing between first and second.
Their decision appeared to have been swayed by the statements Floyd and Warner gave homicide detectives after their arrests.
In the statements - the jury asked Tuesday to hear them read aloud again - Floyd and Warner admitted their roles in the armed robbery of a bank inside a Port Richmond supermarket and their presence in the fleeing Jeep Liberty, stopped in front of Liczbinski's patrol car in the fatal encounter at Almond and Schiller Streets.
Warner's statement went further, saying the driver - Floyd - had been frustrated because he could not shake the pursuing Liczbinski.
Warner said that the driver had slowed the getaway car and told Cain, "Bang him," and that he then had handed the 35-shot SKS Chinese military assault rifle to Cain.
Cain jumped from the car, walked toward Liczbinski, and began shooting as the sergeant was getting out of the car. Liczbinski was hit at least eight times and died on the street beside his car.
Warner's statement became crucial because, as the judge instructed the jury, the conspiracy law holds all members of a conspiracy equally culpable for the acts of any one conspirator.
"In for a penny, in for a pound," Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy said in his closing argument Friday.
In the defense's closing arguments, Kauffman and Harrison tried to undercut the credibility of Warner's and Floyd's confessions. Both argued that Cain had a volatile personality, and that his decision to kill Liczbinski had been spontaneous, without needing his accomplices' consent.
At Almond and Schiller Streets, there was relief among neighbors whose quiet Saturday in 2008 was transformed by the killing of a police officer - commemorated now by a bronze plaque.
Dicksy Widing, 64, one of the first on the scene that morning, was on her front steps around 1:30 p.m. as a neighbor in a blue sedan slowed down and yelled out the window like a town crier: "Guilty of all charges."
"Thank God, thank God," Widing, 64, rejoiced, clasping her hands.
Her friend and neighbor Linda Couch, who stopped by to learn the verdict, was also overjoyed. "Oh, God, I'm so happy," she said. "Now this man can rest in peace."