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Crime & Courts

Death for Delgado, who hears rage of officer's widow

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 02:05 PM

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TAMPA -

Before her husband's killer was sentenced to death, Cindy Roberts was nervous about addressing the court.

"And suddenly, there was a calm that washed over me," she recalled afterward, "and that was just Mike putting his hand on my shoulder. He was right there behind me, reading the statement over my shoulder."

Tampa police Cpl. Mike Roberts was gunned down by Humberto Delgado on Aug. 19, 2009, after Roberts stopped the homeless man pushing a grocery cart on Nebraska Avenue.

Delgado was convicted in November of Roberts' murder, and a jury recommended 8-4 that Delgado be sentenced to death. On Friday, Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles followed through on the recommendation.

Before the judge's decision, Roberts' widow addressed the court during Delgado's sentencing hearing and delivered a statement that served as a powerful, emotional declaration of raw pain and anger.

"You should not be here," she repeated five times in a firm refrain that rang with revulsion.

"Over the last 2½ years, when you've looked my way," she told Delgado, "I've seen the face of evil and disdain. What bothers me most was knowing that that was the last face my husband saw on this Earth. Pure hate and evil. You coward! You murdered my husband in cold blood.

"You pistol-whipped him till he was unconscious. He was no threat to you. But you intentionally and willfully shot him anyway - purposely shooting him through the lungs and heart.

"I hope that when your time comes, you too would choke on your own blood."

Although defense lawyers argued Delgado should be spared because he is mentally ill, Cindy Roberts rejected that, telling the defendant, "This case is not about an illness. This is pure evil and hatred."

Roberts pointedly refused to say Delgado's name, telling him, "You are not worthy of such respect." Later, she added, "You no longer have a name. You're just an inmate number. But to many of us, you will just be known as cop killer."

Roberts painted a stark picture of what she thought will happen to Delgado after he dies.

"You and the devil can dance in the pale moonlight and the darkness in hell, where all evil starts," she said. "And you will still be a murdering, cowardly cop killer."

Before her husband's death, Roberts said he made it clear what should happen to people who murder police officers. They had talked at length after others were killed.

"He said they should get an automatic death penalty," she said. "Killing a cop should be an automatic death penalty. There's no reason for it. They're in uniform. They are the peace-makers."

As she spoke at the hearing, Roberts was watched by a courtroom full of police officers. So many were there that many had to stand in a hallway, where they greeted her after the hearing.

The support "carried me and it lifted me," Roberts later said. "It was interesting as we left the courtroom and they were on both sides of the hallway. That's how we started this. On Aug. 19, 2009, at the hospital, Tampa General Hospital, I was taken from the room to go see Mike, and they (officers) were in that hallway waiting for me, to give me their energy to get through it. And they did the same thing today."

Roberts told reporters that she misses her husband every day.

"You don't open the door one night and have someone tell you your spouse is gone," she said. "It's not supposed to happen that way. We were supposed to be very, very old when something happened to one of us."

The idea of closure, she said, is "absolutely a cliché. This will never be over for me."

Delgado's sentence does not end the case, Roberts said.

The sentence was automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court.

"This is just a step in the process to make sure this per …," she said, stopping herself from referring to Delgado in human terms, "creature doesn't do this to anyone else.

"No one is safe when he's around because if he's upset someone is going to be hurt."


esilvestrini@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7837

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