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Jury: Execute police killer

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 07:49 AM
TAMPA -

Cindy Roberts greeted the news with a sly smile and demure hand claps of satisfaction.

Behind her, rows of officers in uniforms and suits typed out the news on their cellphones: A jury had recommended the killer of Cpl. Mike Roberts be put to death.

"That night he made the decision when Mike's life would end," Cindy Roberts said of her husband's murderer, Humberto Delgado Jr. "Now he has to wait while someone else decides when he will die. Maybe he will get some sense of what Mike went through."

The jury deliberated for three hours Thursday evening before recommending Delgado get the death penalty for killing Roberts in a street-side confrontation on the night of Aug. 19, 2009.

Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles has the final say on Delgado's fate. According to state law, the judge must give "great weight" to the jury's recommendation.

Battles, prosecutors and Delgado's attorneys will meet on Monday morning to decide on a sentencing date. Both sides said they would need at least 30 days to prepare to argue whether the judge should follow the jury's recommendation or opt for the only other possible sentence: life in prison.

Delgado showed no emotion when the jury's recommendation was read. Two rows behind him, his mother and ex-wife stared straight ahead.

While a beaming Cindy Roberts accepted congratulatory hugs, a bailiff escorted Delgado's family out of the courtroom. Halfway out, his mother began to bawl and had to be supported by the bailiff and her former daughter-in-law.

Cindy Roberts said she wasn't trying to be ghoulish by being pleased with possibility of Delgado's death.

"It is still difficult to think that would happen to someone else," she said. "But what he did was so intentional and so callous."

"I think Mike got justice and that is all I want."

Delgado's attorneys hoped to sway jurors to save their client's life with his long and well chronicled history of mental illness. Psychiatrists and psychologists paraded to the stand Thursday, united in their diagnoses that Delgado was bipolar with psychotic features. They contended Delgado had paranoid delusions of persecution, leading him to believe Freemasons, corrupt police officers, gangsters, rap stars and other malevolent forces were out to kill him and his family.

"This would not have occurred without him being seriously mentally ill," said Barbara Stein, a psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution that Delgado was legally sane. "This is a good human being. He did a terrible thing."

Even prosecutors conceded Delgado was mentally ill.

Theda James, one of Delgado's attorneys, said nothing ever could diminish the tragedy of Roberts' death, but begged jurors not to put such a disturbed man to death.

"If you move past the pain of losing a popular police officer you will realize he doesn't have to die," she said. "You don't hold someone with his mental illness to the same standard as a normal person."

Prosecutors countered with Roberts' widow and her sister.

Cindy Roberts relived for the jury the lowest moments the night her husband was shot to death.

"I had to tell Mike's mom she lost her baby, and then go home and tell my baby that his daddy was never coming home," she said.

Jurors convicted Delgado on Tuesday of the first-degree murder of Roberts. With its verdict, the jury said the slaying wasn't premeditated but that Delgado shot the officer during the commission of another felony: resisting arrest with violence.

Cindy Roberts told jurors Thursday that her life and the lives of others would never be the same.

"While we are all better for having him (her husband) in our lives, we will never be whole again," she said. "When Mike died, we all lost a friend. He was steadfast and loyal."

Charlayne Penrose, Cindy Roberts' sister, told jurors of the love her sister shared with her husband.

"Mike was the love of my sister's life, her heart song. Mike was equally in love with Cindy. When Adam (their son) came along, everything was perfect," she said. "Until the night of Aug. 19."


tbrennan@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7698

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