Trooper murderer sentenced

The murderer of New York State Trooper Andrew J. Sperr was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Anthony Horton shot and killed Trooper Sperr during a traffic stop on March 1. Also on Tuesday, accomplice Bryan Adams was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison. A second accomplice, Wayne Adams, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge as a lookout in the bank robbery Horton and the Adams brothers had been involved in just prior to being pulled over by Trooper Sperr. At the time of the traffic stop, Trooper Sperr was unaware they had robbed a bank.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and fellow Troopers of Trooper Sperr, who was a true hero.

Below is an article from the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper of Rochester about the sentencing.

Jeff Murray
Elmira Star-Gazette

(October 18, 2006) — Anthony Horton will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing state Trooper Andrew J. Sperr.

Calling Horton a "loser and a coward," Chemung County Judge James Hayden sentenced him Tuesday to the maximum — life in prison with no chance of parole on charges of aggravated murder and first-degree murder.

Hayden also sentenced accomplice Bryan Adams on Tuesday to 22 years to life in prison for his conviction on second-degree murder charges.

The charges stemmed from the March 1 holdup of a Big Flats bank and a subsequent shootout with Sperr, a town of Greece native, during the getaway. Sperr apparently hadn’t heard about the robbery and thought he was making a routine traffic stop when the shootout occurred.

Before those sentencings, Wayne Adams, Bryan’s brother, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of first-degree attempted robbery in exchange for a sentence of 15 years in prison. Wayne Adams said he acted as a lookout during the robbery.

The same courtroom where Horton was found guilty on Sept. 26 was packed again Tuesday as members of Sperr’s family, friends, representatives of the State Police and other law enforcement agencies turned out to see the sentencings.

State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett rushed from the Rochester-area funeral for a state trooper killed over the weekend to be in court for the proceedings.

Before Hayden pronounced sentence, he praised Trooper Sperr and had harsh words for the man who killed him.

"On March 1, when Trooper Sperr was confronted with this ambush — and make no mistake, this was a cold-blooded ambush — he could have dived for cover and no one would have known," Hayden said. "Instead, Trooper Sperr displayed valor, he exhibited courage, fearlessness and bravery. This valor was especially uncommon, because it was displayed when no one was watching.

"Mr. Horton, you are going to live out your days in prison, until one day you will die and no one will care," Hayden said.

Hayden was equally blunt with Adams, calling him a "sad sack" and a "bumbling idiot."

Prior to the sentencing, several members of Sperr’s family had a chance to tell the court how the murder shattered their lives. Many of the comments were directed at Horton, who listened attentively but without any signs of emotion.

"Look me in the eyes, Mr. Horton. You will see someone who never hated anyone in his life," Sperr’s father, Andrew L. Sperr, said. "I may have disliked some things people did, but I never hated — until I met you."

Emotions among many of the spectators spilled over as Sperr’s mother, Jean, described the pain that has been a part of her life since the day she learned her son was gone.

"Imagine my grief as I envision daily how my son was shot again and again and again and again until he was dead," Jean Sperr said. "I see the back of his head, scratched and bleeding. I see the last bullet that tears into his body as Horton fires into him.

"He died alone with no one to comfort him," Jean Sperr said.

Two of Sperr’s sisters, Patty Ryan and Katie Krotz, also read statements extolling the virtues of their brother and condemning the actions of Horton and Adams.

Neither Horton nor Adams had anything to say on their behalf prior to sentencing.

Bennett was in the Rochester area to attend the funeral of off-duty state Trooper Michael Anders, 33, of Newark, Wayne County, who was killed in a traffic accident Friday morning. Anders died in a crash on Route 104 in Niagara County, near Lockport, one of the areas hard hit by the wintry storm that struck Buffalo and areas to its northeast.

At one time, Horton could have faced the death penalty, but the state Court of Appeals found the state’s death penalty statute unconstitutional, and the Legislature hasn’t passed a new law to restore the death penalty.

That needs to change, said Bennett. Several of his troopers have been shot this year while on duty, an occurrence Bennett expects will continue until New York brings back capital punishment.

Sperr’s father, Andrew L. Sperr, also advocated the death penalty during his statement.

"Your life will be spared because the current laws of New York state do not allow the death penalty. You were apparently aware of this when you murdered our son in cold blood," the elder Sperr told Horton.

"I promise I will do all in my power to help reinstate the death penalty in New York state whenever a police officer is killed by someone in the commission of a crime," Sperr said.