Former Philadelphia police officer Frank Tepper was found guilty of murdering his 21-year-old neighbor.
Former Philadelphia police officer Frank Tepper will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the murder of Billy Panas, Jr. during an altercation outside his Port Richmond house in November 2009.
Tepper, 46, was sentenced Wednesday to the mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder charge. He also was given concurrent sentences of one to two years for reckless endangerment and weapons charges.
Tepper was found guilty in February.
The life sentence came as a relief for the parents of Panas.
“I’m grateful that the justice system works and that (Tepper) will spend the rest of his life in jail,” Billy Panas, Sr. said as the Panas family left the courtroom.
“I cried like a baby but he was the only son I had,” Panas said about the sentencing hearing.
“I can’t carry on my name... my son died, when I die, my name dies. As men and fathers we have a boy, we’re proud we want our name to go on.
“He blew my son’s chest apart for no reason and for that I have to life with the rest of my life. I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I’m gonna start asking God to help me... it’s hard so hard, I miss him so much.”
Tepper, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, claimed his gun went off after being jumped while trying to break up a fight that spilled out from a party at his house.
His lawyer argued that Tepper, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, was acting in self-defense.
But people who witnessed the shooting provided a very different account, saying Tepper simply pulled out his gun and shot Panas as the young man tried to get up off the ground.
Fan, follow and download: Get the latest from NBCPhiladelphia.com anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and NBC Philadelphia. Sign up for our sports newsletter. And, get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text PHIBREAKING to 639710 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)