Convicted killer gets life sentence for Miramar murders
Edward Jermaine Babbs may get Supreme Court reprieve because of his age
- Photos: Edward Jermaine Babbs found
guilty for murder
- Babbs found guilty in murder of pregnant
girl, unborn son
- Video: Victim’s family reacts to Babbs’
A convicted killer was sentenced in a Broward courtroom Thursday to life in
prison without parole, but whether he actually spends the rest of his life
behind bars may be up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Edward Jermaine Babbs, 20, convicted in January of first-degree murder in the shooting death Stephanie Rabsatt, 17, in the parking lot of a Miramar Winn-Dixie, said nothing to Broward Circuit Judge Bernard Bober before his mandatory life sentence was handed down.
The victim was eight months pregnant with Babbs’ son when she was shot in the head and abdomen. Babbs was convicted of the baby’s murder as well.
The sentence of life without parole is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering whether it violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment in cases where the defendant is younger than 18 at the time the crime is committed.
Babbs was 17 years, 9 months and 28 days old on the night Rabsatt was
Assistant State Attorney Deborah Zimet argued that Babbs, the father of the
baby, wanted Rabsatt to have an abortion because he was not ready for
fatherhood. She told Bober that she hopes the Supreme Court upholds life
sentences for juveniles and that killers like Babbs deserve it.
Defense lawyer James Lewis, who was hired after the trial, didn’t wait for
the Supreme Court. In motions filed shortly after Babbs’ conviction, Lewis asked Bober to toss the verdict and acquit Babbs or order a new trial.
“There was no eyewitness testimony, no physical evidence linking the
defendant to the scene of the crime, and contradictory circumstantial evidence, some of which indicated the defendant was not present at the scene of the crime,” he wrote. He also said a figure named “Jamil,” with whom Babbs had gotten into a fight hours before the murder, should have been considered a witness and a possible suspect.
Bober rejected both motions.
Babbs, wearing a black-and-white striped jail uniform, sat stone-faced as
Rabsatt’s mother, father and stepmother took the stand to condemn him and praise the victim.
“They were our light, and their loss is beyond words,” said Karen Moore, the
victim’s mother, speaking of Rabsatt and the grandson she never got to see
alive. “Give Edward Jermaine Babbs the same leniency that he gave to Stephanie and to Jayden.”
Rabsatt’s stepmother, Betty Rabsatt, called Babbs a “selfish, violent,
But the harshest words came from Rabsatt’s father, who spike with an icy
calm. “Personally, I think the court ought out to just take you out and hang
you,” said Ricky Rabsatt, not raising his voice even slightly. “You, your day
will come. You’re no good. They ought to just hang you and forget about
With a life sentence mandated by law, no one from Babbs’ family took the
stand to plead for leniency. After Zimet defended the harsh sentence as
appropriate in this case, Babbs’ lawyer offered no rebuttal.
There are currently 22 Florida State Prison inmates serving life sentences
for murders committed when they were younger than 18. Some were sentenced before parole was abolished in Florida in the 1980s. The rest will have to be re-sentenced if the Supreme Court abolishes life sentences for juveniles.
The Supreme Court has ruled twice on related issues, abolishing the death
penalty for juveniles in 2005 and forbidding life sentences for juveniles
convicted of crimes other than homicide in 2010.
Advocates for juvenile offenders argue that the immature brains of minors
make them more reckless and unable to fully grasp the long-term consequences of their actions. But others say a blanket ban on life sentences would re-victimize the families of those who lost loved ones to teenage killers.
A decision from the Supreme Court could come as early as this spring.
After Babbs received his sentence Thursday, his lawyer said he is maintaining
his innocence and that he intends to appeal the verdict. He will likely be
appointed a public defender for his appeal effort.