Twenty-one years after fatally stabbing his ex-wife's fiance, Armando Liberati, 65, was sentenced to at least four years in state prison Tuesday by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.
Liberati, who had fled to Philadelphia and lived under an assumed name, was apprehended last February after authorities learned that he had applied for Social Security benefits using his real name.
Last month, a jury found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Fred Shaheen, a one-time postman, and of assault with a deadly weapon on Mary Ann Carter, the defendant's ex-wife. The deadly scuffle took place outside Carter's Hollywood apartment Sept. 12, 1964.
Under the penalty imposed Tuesday by Judge Robert T. Altman, Liberati faces a minimum prison term of four years, at the discretion of the state Department of Corrections, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Allan S. Tyson, the prosecutor. Altman relied on an indeterminate sentencing law that was in effect at the time Liberati committed the crime.
Liberati's brief sentencing hearing was charged by an emotional plea for a stiff penalty from the victim's brother, Ned Shaheen, 64, a Hollywood film editor and producer.
"(I) pray that this vermin be not turned loose on the streets to kill again," Shaheen said.
Liberati himself declined to comment after the judge refused to let him use a courtroom microphone. Liberati did, however, interrupt Shaheen, saying that he objected to inaccuracies in Shaheen's statement.
Defense lawyer Charles E. Lloyd asked that Liberati be spared prison because he had lived "a good life, a quiet life" since fleeing. Sending his frail client to prison, Lloyd contended, would be akin to "(sentencing) this man to death."
Judge Altman, however, asserted that Liberati, who had worked in Philadelphia as a stock clerk at a medical center, "certainly does not belong on the streets."
Citing the defendant's statements in a probation report--in which Liberati called his ex-wife "a filthy liar" and said his attorney was guilty of "treason . . . (because) he got me convicted,"--Altman said that Liberati "has not an iota of remorse for his conduct."
"If this case were tried 21 years ago," the judge added, "the proper verdict would have been murder."
Liberati was convicted after a three-day trial in which the prosecution called four witnesses--including Carter and two Philadelphia police detectives, who said the defendant made damaging admissions shortly after his arrest.
Carter told the jury that she married Liberati in 1961, "because I was afraid of him" and said that after their 1963 divorce, he continued to hound her.
Fred Shaheen, an acquaintance of Liberati, was stabbed in the heart after Liberati learned of the couple's wedding plans, Carter testified.
Prosecutors had filed first-degree murder charges, but jurors said they settled on the lesser verdict due to inconsistencies in Carter's testimony.