Scarfo, Seven Defendants Get Life Sentence
Apr. 06, 1989
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A Common Pleas Court judge ruled Thursday that mob boss Nicodemo ''Little Nicky'' Scarfo and seven associates must be sentenced to life in prison instead of death for killing a gangster.
Judge Eugene Clarke took the decision away from the jury on grounds that prosecutors failed to show sufficient aggravating circumstances for a death sentence to be imposed.
Because only a jury can impose a death sentence, the eight men convicted in the 1985 slaying of Frank ''Frankie Flowers'' D'Alfonso will automatically be sentenced to life in prison.
Friends and relatives of the eight broke out in applause as the judge announced his decision.
During the sentencing phase of the trial Thursday, city police firearms examiner John Finor testified bystanders were nearby when D'Alfonso was shot on a South Philadelphia street corner.
But Clarke ruled that was not an aggravating circumstance necessary for the death penalty under Pennsylvania law.
The decision came a day after jurors convicted Scarfo and the others of first-degree murder, conspiracy and the possession of an instrument of crime in the July 23, 1985, shooting of D'Alfonso near his home as he paused to light a cigarette.
Government witnesses said D'Alfonso was murdered because he failed to show Scarfo proper respect as head of organized crime in the Philadelphia-sou thern New Jersey area.
Scarfo, 60, already is serving a 14-year sentence in a $1 million extortion case and faces at least 40 more years in a federal racketeering case.