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Second day of outbursts has defendant removed from courtroom

Accused killer Eric DeShann Floyd told the judge he just could not sit silently by while his lawyers did not ask the questions he wanted asked.

Accused killer Eric DeShann Floyd told the judge he just could not sit silently by while his lawyers did not ask the questions he wanted asked.

As of today, not an issue.

After disrupting a second day of jury selection in the 2008 killing of Philadelphia Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, Floyd will spend the rest of his trial out of view of jurors and spectators - watching a closed-circuit television monitor from a Criminal Justice Center holding cell.

"You have disrupted these proceedings for two days. Your behavior is pure contempt of court," Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes told Floyd during a tense late-afternoon confrontation Tuesday.

The judge warned Floyd that if he again interrupted jury selection, "we will continue this trial and you will watch it by closed circuit television."

"I can do that now, there's no need to wait," Floyd retorted.

And he didn't. Deputy sheriffs took him from the courtroom, which was hurriedly equipped late Tuesday with video equipment.

Floyd, 35, of North Philadelphia, is on trial with Levon T. Warner, 41, of West Philadelphia, in the May 3, 2008, shooting of Liczbinski, 39, a 12-year police veteran. Both men face the possibility of the death penalty if the jury finds them guilty of first-degree murder.

On Monday, the first day of jury selection, Floyd interrupted court by demanding the right to fire his court-appointed defense attorneys and represent himself.

"The dude rubs me the wrong way," Floyd told Hughes, referring to lead defense attorney William L. Bowe.

Floyd complained that Bowe and cocounsel Earl G. Kauffman were not asking questions or raising pretrial issues he thought were important. Floyd told Hughes he would rather be executed than represented by the two lawyers.

All was quiet Tuesday until the first prospective juror from an original panel of 123 was brought into court for individual questioning.

"They're not asking the questions I want them to ask," Floyd interjected, referring to his lawyers.

The juror was removed from court; Floyd and Warner went back to their cells; and Hughes, the defense lawyers, and Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy went behind closed doors.

As the afternoon went on, more lawyers from the District Attorney's Office joined the gathering: Edward Cameron, chief of the homicide unit, and Hugh Burns, chief of the appeals unit.

The issue: how to continue the trial without disruptions and without handing Floyd a bushel of issues to raise on appeal.

After Floyd was brought back into court late Tuesday, Hughes reaffirmed that he would keep his current lawyers and would not represent himself.

"It's abundantly clear that the only reason you are disturbing these proceedings is to disrupt the administration of justice," Hughes said.

The judge told prosecution and defense attorneys that she was dismissing 16 prospective jurors who had waited all afternoon while they were deciding how to handle Floyd's outbursts. Jury selection resumes Wednesday.

Floyd and Warner are accused of taking part in the 2008 bank robbery and chase that ended in Port Richmond with the death of Liczbinski, who was in pursuit.

Howard Cain, 33, the alleged leader of the group who police say shot the 12-year-veteran officer, was killed by police after the three split up and he ran off.

The District Attorney's Office is seeking the death penalty if Floyd and Warner are convicted of first-degree murder. As Cain's accomplices, prosecutors say, the two knew about or handled the rifle used to shoot Liczbinski and are equally culpable in his death.