Death sentence commuted for convicted cop-killer

Edward Bracey

Family members and law enforcement officials were outraged this week when Court of Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina overturned the death sentenced for Edward Bracey. Bracey was convicted for the 1992 slaying of Police Officer Daniel Boyle. Sarmina ruled on Jan. 10, 2013 that Bracey could not be put to death because of a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that it is illegal to execute anyone who is deemed mentally retarded.

“Three weeks from today, it will be 23 years since Officer Danny Boyle was murdered by Edward Bracey on Feb. 4, 1991,” said First Assistant Edward McCann. “Ironically, the trial of Bracey started almost a year to the day of Officer Boyle’s murder, and the jury’s death sentence was handed down on March 4, 1992. In the nearly 22 years since that date, the defendant has attacked his sentence in a variety of ways. None of these challenges deal with the strength of the evidence – the evidence of defendant’s guilt is undeniable. No court has found that the trial was unfair, or that he was the victim of any misconduct by the prosecution or the police.”

McCann said that during proceeding held in 1998 the defendant presented three experts that all testified that he was not mentally retarded. One testified that defendant’s IQ score was “five points higher than one would need to get to actually be classified as mentally retarded.” A second flatly said “defendant is not mentally retarded.” A third said that defendant’s IQ score was in the borderline range rather than the mentally retarded range and that he read at the tenth grade level, the point when he stopped attending school. The judge dismissed Bracey’s petition as meritless.

“Here we sit, in Jan. of 2014, a full generation after the murder of Boyle and a court has ruled he is mentally retarded and not eligible to be executed. We do not have the benefit of Judge Sarmina’s opinion, so I cannot say for certain what the basis is for her ruling. However, I can say this for certain. The victim’s family; who have done nothing but serve this city with strength and character, both before and after Danny’s death, have questions about a process that can lead to a result like this, and I for one have no answers. Because I have the same question about how a jury’s verdict, having been ratified by multiple layers of review, can be undone 22 years after it was rendered on a claim that is frankly inconsistent with the evidence this same defendant produced in 1998.”

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Reward Offered for Slain Cop’s Killer

A $40,000 reward was announced this week for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot and killed a Philadelphia police officer more than forty years ago. It remains the only unsolved murder of a police officer in the city.

On Jan. 30, 1970, Officer Frederick Cione was fatally shot while patrolling on the 1700 block of West Oxford St. in North Philadelphia. The 25-year old officer, who had served in Vietnam, was on the job for just one year, working in what was then the 23rd District.

According to investigators, Cione was shot and killed as he approached three male suspects. A witness reported that Cione got out of his patrol car and approached the suspects along the 1700 block of West Oxford Street shortly after 1:00 p.m. One of them pulled a .22 pistol and fired three shots, one in the chest, one in the abdomen and one hitting and lodging in Cione’s gun belt.

The suspects have ever been identified.

Anyone with information regarding the murder of Officer Frederick Cione should contact the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 /3335.

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Contact staff writer Larry Miller at 215-893-5782 or lmiller@phillytrib.com.

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