Convicted Tallahassee Cop Killer Escapes Death Penalty

Thursday afternoon he was sentenced to life in prison. Friends, family and fellow officers crowded into the courtroom this afternoon and spilled into the hall as Coy Evans stood before Judge Bateman. He said however unpopular his decision may be, he must follow the law of the land and sentence Evans to life in prison instead of the death penalty.

Coy Evans had already been convicted of first-degree murder for pumping six bullets into the body of Sgt. Dale Green as he fled the scene of a robbery two years ago. Now it would be up to Judge Thomas Bateman, a former deputy and assistant attorney general, to decide if he deserved to live or die for that crime.

"We will never know why the jury recommended life imprisonment instead of death. Not withstanding, the recommendation is what it is and under the law I must give it great weight."

As the judge sentenced Evans to three consecutive life sentences, family and fellow officers held back tears. Sgt. Green's widow had pushed for the death penalty even after a jury recommended life.

"It was important to me. I still think that would be the appropriate sentence for the crime committed. That would have been the appropriate message to the community."

Capt. Kelly Burke, Tallahassee Police Department, says, "I would just like to have that fabric of our society that says, ‘You know what, you don't injure or kill our officers.’"

Willie Meggs, State Attorney, says, "My belief in this case is that the jury felt sympathy, as we all did. You couldn't be in that courtroom and not feel sympathy, yet we instruct them not to."

Evans's mother and sister had no comment, but his lawyer did, saying the murder of Sgt. Green was unlike that of Ernie Ponce de Leon in that it was sudden and unintentional and therefore not deserving of the ultimate penalty.

Inez Suber, Coy Evans's Attorney, says, "Life is life. I was very pleased that the jury followed the judge's recommendation; all along I thought this was a life sentence."

Many people felt like a tape recording of a call between Evans and his children may have swayed the jury, but his lawyer says that was just one of many factors that saved his life.

Many Tallahassee police officers were upset about the sentence. One officer we spoke to says while he respects the judge's decision, he thinks it sends the wrong message, and perhaps the law should be changed to make the death penalty more likely for anyone who kills an on-duty law enforcement officer.