James S. Pannucci
Private First Class, United States Army
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA
2 sentenced in slaying of old man `with an incredibly big heart'
A Broward judge Tuesday sentenced two young men in the stabbing death of an elderly television repairman last summer.
By SARA OLKON
James Pannucci met Josiah Shorey at an Amoco station.
Shorey, a ne'er-do-well with a hound-dog expression, had helped one of Pannucci's relatives pump gas. Pannucci was touched and offered the ex-con work at his tiny TV-repair shop in Fort Lauderdale.
Pannucci's kindness would prove fatal.
Last June, a year after the meeting at the gas station, Shorey and pal Johnathan ''Jon Jon'' Beahn were low on cash and decided to steal money from Pannucci, an 83-year-old World War II veteran and widower who had run his Lincoln Radio and Television repair shop since 1958.
The robbery didn't go as planned.
Pannucci resisted. Beahn ended up stabbing Pannucci 17 times with a butterfly knife, piercing his heart. He made off with $150 from Pannucci's pocket.
On Tuesday, Broward Circuit Court Judge Paul Backman sent the pair to prison for the slaying.
Beahn, 20, will serve the rest of his life in prison for first-degree murder. The state and the victim's family had waived the death penalty.
Shorey, 26, agreed to a plea deal with the state and will serve 30 years plus one day on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person. He helped plan the heist and waited outside in his mother's Plymouth Neon during the murder.
''I'm guilty as hell, you know,'' Shorey said in court, clutching a copy of the book Change Your Life Biblically. He blamed his actions in part on his girlfriend, who was pressuring him for cash so that she could buy baby formula and diapers for her child, said his attorney, Thomas O'Connell.
On Tuesday, Shorey turned to face Pannucci's daughter, Barbara Caputo.
''I hope to God she can heal the pain through time,'' he said softly. ``I feel I should pay some portion of my life for the pain I have caused people.''
Beahn, for his part, sat expressionless during the proceedings. He did not address the court.
The state's case against the pair was fortified by an hour-long videotaped confession in which Beahn implicated Shorey and demonstrated for investigators exactly how he stabbed the repairman.
''May God have mercy on your souls,'' Caputo said to Beahn and Shorey. She steadied a sheet of notebook paper before her, as she spoke of her father's decorated service as an infantryman in Europe, of his final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery and his generous spirit.
She said her father sometimes charged as little as a dollar for a repair if a customer was down on his luck.
Prosecutor Brian Cavanagh said Pannucci kept Shorey on in the shop, even after he began to suspect that he was stealing.
``He was a man with an incredibly big heart.''