District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced on Friday (October 13, 2023) that 25 year-old Mark Spicer of Covington pled guilty to first-degree murder, attempted first degree murder, aggravated flight from an officer, obstruction of justice by tampering with evidence and illegal possession of stolen firearms. Following the entry of the guilty plea, victim impact statements were read and District Judge Ellen Creel sentenced Spicer to life in prison plus an additional 100 years to run consecutively, without the benefit of appeal, commutation, pardon or parole. In addition, Spicer signed a Contract for Life Imprisonment Agreement prohibiting him from seeking any future modifications of his guilty plea or sentence.
Giving victim impact statements were Mandeville Police Captain Vincent Liberto’s widow, Tracey, and Captain Liberto’s sister, Camilla “Camey” Liberto Grau and good friend and neighbor, Dana Angelo Columbo. Mrs. Liberto addressed Spicer and said, “you’ve devastated and destroyed us and left our family broken.” “Look around and see all the people who showed up for my husband today…you killed the best human being any of us will ever know.” Ms. Grau told Spicer, “Today we close the chapter on you and throw the book away!”
For the past four years, the District Attorney’s Office has been persistent in its pursuit of the death penalty in this matter. Recently, at the behest of the victim’s family, the District Attorney’s Office began working on a possible plea agreement versus pursuit of the death penalty as Captain Liberto’s wife and other family members began to express their discontent with the lengthy and burdensome proceedings required in capital cases. They desired to have closure. Therefore, the above agreement was presented to defense counsel for Spicer and was accepted.
Following the court proceedings, a joint press conference was held by the Liberto family, the Mandeville Police and the District Attorney’s Office. Mrs. Liberto addressed the group gathered for the press conference. She explained how the family came to the decision to accept the plea agreement. She said, “We would specifically like to thank the Louisiana State Police Criminal Investigation Division, Sergeant Chris Anderson, the Mandeville Police Department, former chief Gerald Sticker, current chief Todd Schleim, the St. Tammy Parish Sheriff office, the St Tammany District 4 Fire Department along with all first responders. Also, District Attorney, Warren Montgomery, Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Dearing, Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Dover, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Caplan, Chief Investigator Vince Saltaformaggio, Investigator Jason Garbo, Executive Assistant, Melanie Baldwin, Legal Assistant, Heather Legere and Supervisory Victim Witness Coordinator, Karen Arias. Together we can honor the legacy of my husband, Captain Vincent N. Liberto, Jr. and work toward creating a safer and more just society for all.”
Collin Sims of the District Attorney’s Office said, “We support the family’s decision to take the life plea. It was the best possible scenario to make sure the defendant doesn’t see the light of day.”
Mandeville Police Chief Todd Schliem said, “I have witnessed the relentless dedication and hard work of our district attorney's office in securing a conviction in this case. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the teamwork displayed by everyone involved in prosecuting this case. We encourage you to continue supporting the Liberto family by keeping them in your thoughts and prayers as they embark on their healing process.”
Retired Mandeville Chief of Police Gerald Sticker, who was the Chief in 2019, said, “Justice is imperfect but Justice is coming for Spicer…he’ll have to stand before God.”
On Friday September 20th, 2019, Vincent ""Vinnie"" Liberto, Jr, loving husband and father to seven
children, was killed in the Line of Duty serving his community. The following are the events that occurred that day.
While on patrol, Mandeville Police Officer Ben Cato attempted to stop a vehicle for lacking a license plate. The vehicle was being driven by Spicer, who refused to pull over and a high-speed pursuit began. After winding through various streets of Mandeville, the pursuit continued onto North Causeway Blvd. toward Covington. During the pursuit, Spicer armed himself with a firearm and began firing shots at the unit driven by Officer Cato, striking it multiple times. One of the bullets struck Officer Cato in the head, inflicting a nonlethal wound. As the vehicles crossed the overpass at Highway 22, Spicer’s vehicle shot across the median of North Causeway Blvd, across the lanes of oncoming traffic, onto the off ramp toward Hwy 22. Spicer lost control of his vehicle, causing it to strike the fence running parallel to the service road and rendering the vehicle inoperable. Spicer exited his vehicle while still armed with the firearm and fled on foot. Captain Vincent Liberto, who had joined the other officers assisting in the vehicle pursuit, attempted to intercept Spicer’s escape by placing his unit in Spicer’s path. As Spicer approached Liberto’s unit, he fired two shots through the passenger door window, striking and killing Captain Liberto. Spicer then entered a nearby McDonalds before fleeing into Beau Chene subdivision. Police officers from multiple agencies joined in the foot pursuit of Spicer, eventually apprehending him at a church adjacent to the Beau Chene subdivision. He was taken into custody, but no longer had possession of the firearm. When later questioned about his actions, Spicer claimed to have blacked out and said he had no recollection of shooting Captain Liberto. Officers canvassed the path of Spicer’s flight and located a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber handgun wrapped in a grey t-shirt in a garden of a Beau Chene residence. Laboratory analysis of the firearm later confirmed the presence of Spicer’s DNA.
Captain Liberto succumbed to his wounds while still seated in his vehicle. Officer Cato was transported to Lakeview Regional Medical Center where he received treatment for his gunshot wound and was released the same day.
Captain Liberto was a highly decorated and widely respected law enforcement officer as well as a U.S. Marine Combat Veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm. The City of Mandeville recently erected a permanent memorial to him, near the area of his death on North Causeway Blvd.
At the press conference, Chief Schliem addressed the Liberto family, “I want to assure you that our support for you will not waver. We are here for you for as long as you need us. The memory of Captain Liberto will be cherished and honored by our department.”