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Plea deal for cop-killer put off

TAMPA — Just weeks after his two-decade-long display of mental incompetency was ruled fakery, convicted cop killer Carlos Bello on Friday refused an offer of life without parole instead of death.

Bello was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Tampa police Detective Gerald A. Rauft, 38, during a drug sting gone awry. But in 1989, the Florida Supreme Court threw out the sentence, partly because Bello was made to wear leg shackles in court, which could have prejudiced the jury. The court ordered that Bello be resentenced.

Each time prosecutors tried, Bello was found mentally incompetent until last February, when Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ron Ficarrotta learned from a psychologist monitoring Bello that he was faking.

Bello's public defender told the judge Friday that Bello appears not to understand the offer of life without parole. Ficarrotta gave the attorney until May 2 to help Bello understand.

Plea deal for cop-killer put off 03/09/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 9, 2012 1:55pm]
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