A reputed gang associate who fatally shot an off-duty Revere police officer in 2007 learned Thursday that he’ll walk free in 2021, an outcome the officer’s brother deemed “absurd to me.”
The killer, Robert Iacoviello Jr., 30, learned his fate during a dramatic hearing in Suffolk Superior Court, which was packed with relatives of the victim, Officer Daniel Talbot; his fellow officers; and Iacoviello’s mother.
Iacoviello was convicted of second-degree murder in 2010 for the shooting of Talbot three years earlier behind Revere High School.
An appeals court tossed the murder conviction in 2016, ruling that jurors should have been instructed on self-defense because a reasonable juror could have inferred “that Talbot pulled out his Glock and aimed it at the Iacoviello group, and possibly even fired it, before Iacoviello pulled out the nine-millimeter Luger” and shot Talbot in the head.
Rather than retry the murder case, prosecutors struck a deal with Iacoviello that allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter.
Iacoviello entered that plea Thursday and was sentenced to 14 years in state prison, with credit for time served since his arrest in October 2007.
When Judge Jeffrey Locke asked Iacoviello why he was pleading guilty, he responded: “Because I’m guilty. . . . I kind of want to put this behind me.”
That remark incensed Talbot’s brother, Paul Talbot.
“That must be nice,” Paul said during an impassioned victim impact statement, adding that his family can’t put his brother’s death behind them so easily.
His voice rising, Paul Talbot said the fact that manslaughter was on the table “for a cop killer is absurd to me, and I just don’t understand it.”
Pointing at Iacoviello, he struggled to maintain his composure, telling Locke, “It’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to my family, what that man did.”
His words were echoed by Daniel Talbot’s fiance, Constance Dussault, who witnessed the shooting.
“My life was forever changed the night that Robert Iacoviello ran into a field shooting his gun into a small crowd of people,” Dussault said. “I don’t have it in me to forgive, just yet. I am just too angry to forgive.”
Dussault cried on the witness stand, describing her slain fiance as a caring, dedicated officer with a wonderful sense of humor.
She said her “last vision” of Talbot was him “gasping for air while I held his hand, telling him to be strong and that I loved him.”
Before Iacoviello entered his plea, Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Edmond Zabin summarized the facts of the case. Talbot, his fiance, and other off-duty officers had left a restaurant and were drinking on bleachers behind the school around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 29, 2007.
Talbot spotted Iacoviello’s friend, another gang associate named Derek Lodie, and made “disparaging remarks about the bloods,” Zabin said. Lodie telephoned another friend, prompting a group that included Iacoviello to come to the field. Talbot approached Iacoviello’s group, and Iacoviello fired.
Zabin said that after the initial encounter with Talbot, Lodie had told his friends that someone in Talbot’s group “flashed a hammer,” slang for displaying a gun.
Lodie indicated to Iacoviello before the shooting that people in Talbot’s group “may have been members of a rival gang,” Zabin said. Another officer who was present testified that Talbot drew his gun “and assumed a firing position” before he was shot, Zabin said, adding that there was no evidence that Iacoviello knew Talbot was a police officer.
Prosecutors opted against retrying the murder charge because of the passage of time and jury instructions required in light of the appellate ruling that left the government’s ability to win a conviction “somewhat compromised,” Zabin said.
He conceded that a 14-year sentence, though recommended by lawyers on both sides, is “not satisfying to the Commonwealth” or Talbot’s family.
Iacoviello’s initial second-degree murder conviction carried a life sentence with parole eligibility after 15 years.
He addressed Locke a second time Thursday and apologized for his remark about putting the case behind him.
“I want to apologize for maybe saying something that was insensitive,” Iacoviello said. “I just was caught off guard.”
He also apologized for his actions during the shooting, calling it “a horrible situation that I wish never happened and shouldn’t have happened.”
Iacoviello’s attorney, Jonathan Shapiro, said his client has been a model inmate with a clean disciplinary record.
Shapiro said he hoped all parties could move forward after Thursday’s hearing.
“Everyone but Dan Talbot,” Locke said.
John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.