3 men avoid death penalty in Fla. deputy's slaying
The three men were convicted earlier this year of murdering Deputy Brian Tephford in 2006
By Rafael Olmeda
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A jury on Monday spared the lives of three men convicted earlier this year of murdering Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Tephford.
The same jury that found Eloyn Ingraham, Bernard Forbes and Andre Delancy guilty in March returned to Broward Circuit Judge Paul Backman’s courtroom to decide that none of the three men deserves to be executed for the crime.
Backman was bound by law to sentence the three to life in prison for Tephford’s murder.
The defendants each were also sentenced to 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder, with credit for the 12 years they’ve served since their capture, and life in prison for the attempted murder of Deputy Corey Carbocci, who was wounded in the shooting Nov. 11, 2006, that claimed Tephford’s life.
The five men and seven women on the jury were in court for the reading of the sentence, seated directly behind Carbocci, his wife, and Stefanie Tephford-Rush, the slain deputy’s widow.
Carbocci and Tephford-Rush declined to comment after the sentencing hearing.
The case was until Monday one of the oldest pending trials in the county. Ten years passed from the crime to the start of jury selection, with routine delays exacerbated by the challenge of coordinating the schedules of three different defense teams, a kidnapping and robbery trial involving two of the defendants (who were acquitted) and a two-year saga over the constitutionality of Florida’s death penalty law.
The jury’s final decision came more than a year after opening statements in the trial. Broward State Attorney Mike Satz prosecuted the case personally, convincing jurors that Ingraham ordered his friends to the scene of a Tamarac traffic stop, where they ambushed and murdered Tephford and wounded Carbocci.
The jury was not required to provide a breakdown of its sentencing decision — a single vote for life in prison would have been enough to block the path to Florida’s death row.
Since Florida changed its death penalty law in 2017, only one jury has returned with a unanimous recommendation for death in Broward County — Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes must still decide whether to approve a death sentence for Peter Avsenew. While a jury’s rejection of the death penalty is final, a judge can override a jury’s recommendation for execution.
Holmes is overseeing the penalty phase of another defendant, Eric Montgomery, this week.
Last fall, a jury rejected the death sentence for Jacqueline Luongo, who was convicted of killing her roommate in 2014.
©2018 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)