A 45-year-old Baltimore man got 50 years in prison yesterday for his part in the December 1992 murder of an employee during a robbery at the Sizzler restaurant in Cockeysville.
William Francis Tyler, formerly of Belle Avenue, was convicted by a Baltimore County jury on July 15 of felony murder and the armed robbery of seven patrons and employees of the restaurant in the 10100 block of York Road.
He was acquitted of a handgun charge.
Until he was arrested for the Sizzler murder, Tyler had only a minor criminal record, according to testimony.
Defense attorney Harold I. Glaser read a statement written by Tyler expressing sympathy for the family of 29-year-old John Dwayne Tillman, who was shot and killed by one of four stocking-masked robbers who burst into the restaurant at about 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, 1992.
"This crime was a brazen criminal act," Assistant State's Attorney Jason G. League said, asking Circuit Judge John Grayson Turnbull II for a life sentence.
Mr. League referred to letters from traumatized victims of the robbery and read a statement from Mr. Tillman's mother, Ruth, lamenting the loss of her son and its effect on her granddaughter, whose images of Christmas and New Year's Eve included her father lying in a casket.
As Mr. League read the letter, the 12-year-old girl quietly fled the courtroom in tears.
She didn't hear the prosecutor read her letter to the judge, which said, "Now I will have to wait to go to heaven to see my Daddy again. . . . I hope the bad men will always remember my face and what they took away from me."
Tyler's family also wept after the sentencing.
Mr. Glaser had argued that Tyler should receive no more time than two other co-defendants, 22-year-old cousins Aaron Delano and Wayne Alphonso Brooks, both of Baltimore. They plea-bargained for 25-year terms.
Noting that Tyler had confessed to police -- a confession he later recanted at his trial -- Mr. League told the judge, he "should not benefit from the evidentiary problems the state had against Mr. Brooks and Mr. Evans."
The man convicted of pulling the trigger, Robert Lee Berry, 26, is awaiting sentencing. According to the testimony, he became impatient after the victim was led from the kitchen and ordered to point out the restaurant manager.