‘Justice was served’: Family of cop killed in line of duty relieved as killer sent to death row

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The family of Sean Tuder filled up the courtroom Monday morning as they were able to give one last opportunity to address Marco Perez, who was convicted of Tuder’s murder before he was sent off to death row.

In a formal sentencing hearing Monday morning, Judge Ben Brooks formally upheld the jury’s conviction from last month which was capital murder of a police officer, and in an 11-1 vote, the jury recommend Perez to be sentenced to death.

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Four members of Tuder’s family gave statements on how Tuder’s death impacted them for the past five years.

“He dreamed someday of becoming a parent,” Tuder’s mother, Noreen, said in the courtroom. “Our son was killed senselessly,” she continued as she addressed Marco Perez. “And I would like to add to that, I’m really sorry for the other family also… I don’t understand why he didn’t just go back to his parents… I don’t understand why he executed my son the way he did… Why did he mercilessly execute my child? That’s something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life. It’s never going to change… I don’t know what else to say.”

Sean Tuder’s widow, Chrissy Tuder, said Perez cannot be changed, and she can’t understand why he would murder her husband.

“I was hoping you made a mistake, Marco,” she said. “But now, after seeing your actions, I know there’s no hope for you. After sitting in this courtroom for weeks, and seeing your arrogance, violent outbursts, I believe there’s no hope for you.”

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Sarah Shallowitz, Tuder’s cousin, also addressed Perez in her victim impact statement.

“I challenge you to do better,” she said to Perez. “Instead of hurting others, do better. If not for yourself, but for your family.”

“It’s been devastating, and it’s been a long, long process,” Noreen said outside of the courtroom to reporters. “It’s hard to explain because a loss of a child is something—you never want to bury your child.”

Sean Tuder was murdered at the Peach Place Inn Apartments in West Mobile in January 2019 while working undercover.

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During the trial, prosecutors argued that Perez was trying to run away from law enforcement, but Perez’s defense attorneys argued that Perez acted in self-defense because he didn’t Tuder was a cop.

Perez’s defense attorney, Dennis Knizley, plans to appeal the conviction, but he explained that appealing the conviction could take some time.

“Unfortunately, a death penalty case, you know, this could be decades before this is ultimately resolved in the appellate system,” Knizley said.

It could take a long time or be highly unlikely a punishment is overturned because a jury’s recommendation for punishment on capital murder cases in Alabama is upheld. Ultimately, a judge cannot overrule their recommendation.

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“Today, justice was done,” Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood said. “Marco Perez received the death penalty as he deserved. The death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst. And Marco Perez certainly fits that bill.”

Blackwood said this law is a new one.

“Before the law changed, that the jury would give a recommendation to the judge and then the judge could choose to follow that recommendation or override the recommendation of the jury,” Blackwood said. “Under current law, the jury no longer gives recommendation, they give a sentence, and then the judge imposes the sentence that the jury gives.”

After five long years, Tuder’s mother is just happy that she won’t have to come back to a courtroom for her son’s murder.

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“The actual sentence was hard for me, but I thank God took care of that, and justice was served,” Noreen exhaled.

Perez will be then taken to Holman Prison in Atmore where will now sit on death row. He will have to return to court in Mobile on July 18 where he will face other noncapital charges such as assault, theft of property and burglary from previous crimes.

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