John "Jordan" Lewis - the baby-faced high school dropout whose six-week career as an armed robber ended with the Halloween 2007 slaying of Police Officer Chuck Cassidy - was sentenced to death yesterday by a Philadelphia jury.
The Common Pleas Court jury of eight women and four men deliberated for less than an hour over lunch before deciding that Lewis, 23, should be killed by lethal injection.
"Death," the jury forewoman announced without hesitation.
Lewis, a chubby six-footer in jeans and a green sweater who wore thick, oversize black-frame glasses, did not show any emotion as the sentence was announced and repeated 11 times, as each juror intoned "Death."
Lewis' mother, Lynn Dyches, 39, a city correctional officer, immediately began to sob quietly and slumped into the lap of a male companion, inconsolable about her only son's fate.
About 10 feet away, Cassidy's widow, Judy, and their three children and other relatives huddled together.
After the jury was excused and left the room, Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart announced that he wanted to immediately proceed with the formal sentencing.
Though almost anticlimactic, the 15-minute sentencing hearing featured one more impact statement from Judy Cassidy.
"There are no winners today - we are all losers here," Cassidy said, looking at Lewis from the witness stand. "The only reason we are here today is because of your actions. You're the one. You brought your family here, and you are the one who brought my family here."
Cassidy seemed barely able to contain her anger.
"I refer to you at home as the asshole," Cassidy said, telling Lewis she had come up with far worse names.
She said she did not believe Lewis was remorseful: "You knew exactly what you were doing. You made the choice to drop out of school. You made the choice not to get a job. You chose to look my husband in the eye and assassinate him."
Lewis, who was consistently unpredictable during the eight-day trial, remained so yesterday, making a composed and articulate three-minute statement before the judge sentenced him.
Saying that he did not feel anyone believed him, Lewis said: "I really don't know what to say to anyone here. I take this sentence with honor for Chuck, for my family, and for the choices I made."
During the first day of the trial on Nov. 12, Lewis pleaded guilty to a general charge of murder and six armed robberies, leaving to the jury the tasks of deciding the degree of murder and whether he should live or die.
He had an emotional outburst during the trial, calling out, "I love you too, man," to a cousin forced to testify against him after being charged with helping Lewis elude police for three days.
And he shouted, "I apologize, Mrs. Cassidy," as the officer's widow left the stand last Wednesday as the prosecution's final witness.
Yesterday, as his distraught family sat behind him, Lewis calmly apologized and said he was ready to take responsibility for killing Cassidy, 54, during the robbery of a Dunkin' Donuts store at 6620 N. Broad St. in West Oak Lane.
"You don't know the nights I cried in jail, and during the last moments I was with my family," Lewis said.
The judge's voice cracked several times as he sentenced Lewis. Minehart, 62, a former probation officer, prosecutor, and defense lawyer, praised Judy Cassidy's eloquence and the police work of her husband of 26 years, a 25-year veteran of the police force.
Minehart told Lewis: "Your actions have robbed this city."
Minehart ordered Lewis transferred to the state prison at Rockview in Centre County, site of the state's death chamber since the days of the electric chair.
Lewis becomes the 222d person on Pennsylvania's death row, though that term is a misnomer: Condemned inmates are housed at five state prisons, most at Greene in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
At Rockview, Lewis will be locked in a cell 23 hours a day, getting out only one hour for some exercise in a small caged yard.
Lewis' attorneys said they would appeal, and even though Lewis' guilty plea curtails his appellate options, no one expects him to be put to death soon.
Defense attorney Michael Coard said he talked briefly to Lewis after the sentencing and said Lewis was "despondent, but more than that, he's remorseful."
"This is not a victory for anybody today," Coard said. "The idea to kill somebody to show killing is wrong is a glaring hypocrisy."
Earlier yesterday, defense attorney Bernard L. Siegel, an expert in death-penalty litigation, urged the jurors not to condemn Lewis. By pleading guilty, Siegel said, Lewis put himself at their mercy.
"Is this person here too evil to live? Is he the worst of the worst?" Siegel asked.
After the sentencing, Lewis' mother and family remained in the empty courtroom for almost 25 minutes. Lewis' maternal grandmother and others surrounded Dyches, talking to and trying to console her.
Eventually, Dyches walked out of the courtroom alone, as if in a trance, and said nothing to a waiting reporter.
"There won't be a comment," said a female relative.
Nor did anything about the verdict appear to assuage police officials.
"I don't know if it sends a message or not," said Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey. "Some people, unfortunately, are just idiots and thugs, and they do what they do and they give no real thought to it. At least this guy won't be out there to hurt anybody else.
"Nothing is going to bring Chuck Cassidy back," Ramsey added. "This isn't exactly an even exchange."
When Cassidy family members met briefly with reporters on Filbert Street outside the Criminal Justice Center, they echoed Ramsey.
"Nobody won. There's no prize," said Anthony Conti, Cassidy's brother-in-law, who acted as family spokesman. "The Lewis family has lost their son. He will die in jail. And we lost Chuck.
"Thursday is Thanksgiving, and we thank God that this trial is over," Conti said. "The trial is over, but the nightmare doesn't end. The nightmare never ends."
Conti praised prosecutors Edward Cameron and Jennifer Selber, the support of Ramsey and the department and the Fraternal Order of Police, and the families of the five police officers slain since Cassidy, some of whom attended the trial every day.
Finally, Conti asked the news media to let the Cassidy family resume life in private: "We're done now. We don't want to be interviewed. We don't want mikes thrust in our faces. We just want you to let us go home and be thankful that this is over."