Former Phila. police officer sentenced for murder

Frank Tepper

April 4, 2012 11:18:49 AM PDT
A former Philadelphia police officer who shot an unarmed neighbor during a drunken melee outside a baby shower has been formally sentenced to life in prison.

Frank Tepper was convicted in February of first-degree murder in the killing of 21-year-old William Panas Jr.

Tepper said nothing as the sentence was handed down on Wednesday morning. There was little doubt about the sentence, as a first-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of life without parole in Pennsylvania.

In a victim impact statement on Wednesday, Panas' mother asked the judge that Tepper be put in solitary confinement every year on the day that her son was killed. The judge said he would send that request along to the Bureau of Prisons.

The November 2009 slaying of Panas by Tepper, who was off-duty at the time, stoked tensions in the city's Port Richmond neighborhood. A fight had erupted outside Tepper's rowhouse during an evening shower for his daughter. Panas had been drinking with friends and came to investigate.

The young man apparently doubted Tepper's will to shoot as the officer pointed a gun at his chest. Tepper, who had been drinking, pulled the trigger.

Tepper had served on the force for 15 years.

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