Baltimore Jury Sentences House to Life In Detective's Death


BALTIMORE (AP) -- A jury sentenced Jovan House to life in prison without parole Thursday for killing city police Detective Thomas Newman.

House, 22, faced a possible death penalty after the jury convicted him last week of first-degree murder in Newman's death. The detective was killed in November 2002 in retaliation for testifying against a suspect in an earlier shooting that wounded the officer, authorities said.

"I'm sorry that this ever happened," House said Thursday in court. "I hate myself for being part of it. I'd like to say sorry to the Newman family."

Rena Martin, Newman's younger sister, acknowledged House's apology afterward.

"We appreciate his words," she said. "If it came from the heart _ I couldn't tell."

House was also sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder and to 20 years in prison on a handgun conviction. Circuit Judge Albert Matricciani Jr. ordered him to serve the three sentences consecutively.

House has 30 days to appeal.

The courtroom was filled with friends and relatives of the victim and the defendant. House, who wore a photo of his toddler son on a string around his neck, had no visible reaction when he heard his sentence but his grandmother and father started crying.

There were about 250 city police officers wearing dress uniforms at the courthouse, some in the courtroom and others lining the hallway outside.

Police Commissioner Kevin Clark said he respected the jury's decision.

"The message here is if you commit crimes like this, you will spend the rest of your life with your friends in jail," Clark said.

Daniel Fickus, president of the Baltimore chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he wasn't surprised that the jury failed to give House a capital sentence.

"As police officers, we would have liked to see the death penalty," Fickus said. "... But it's very difficult to come up with that decision ... It's tough to get the death penalty in the city of Baltimore."

No one has been sentenced to death in Baltimore for six years, and that sentence was overturned on appeal.

Newman, 37, was killed outside a Baltimore tavern. Prosecutors said House and Raymond Saunders attacked him in retaliation for Newman's testimony against Saunders' half brother. The relative was convicted of trying to kill Newman in April 2001.

Jurors began deliberating House's sentence Wednesday afternoon and deliberated for a total of about six hours.

Saunders and another man charged in Newman's death, Anthony Brown, are awaiting trial. Saunders also faces a possible death sentence. Brown is accused of driving the getaway car.

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