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Teen gets 25 years in death of deputy

By: Jeff Allen Email
By: Jeff Allen Email

The teenager who pleaded guilty in the murder of a Bell County sheriff's deputy learned his fate Monday afternoon.

A judge sentenced David Poppiti to 25 years in prison. Police say Poppiti rammed deputy Sean Pursifull's cruiser during a chase, killing him and his police dog.

The sentencing came on an already emotional day for deputy Pursifull's family. He would have turned 33 years old Monday.

Bernice Pursifull says visiting her son's grave never gets any easier.

"I miss him so bad ... it just don't seem the same with him gone," says Pursifull.

But on what would have been deputy Sean Pursifull's 33rd birthday, his mother had an important message for her son.

"And I told him ... that they were sentencing the boy today on his birthday ... and how much we missed him and loved him," says Pursifull.

Deputy Pursifull lies next to his faithful companion, King. The two were killed in January 2008 when police say David Poppiti rammed right into their cruiser while leading police on a chase on highway 119.

A judge sentenced Poppiti to a total of 25 years for wanton murder and fleeing or evading police. He also had a stern message for the 18 year old on behalf of Sean Pursifull's three children.

"Those events we look forward to ... weddings ... nobody will be there as their father ... because of your actions," said special judge Roderick Messer.

Poppiti acknowledged the judge's reprimand that his actions for many years led him on a path to trouble. But the deputy's mother still has one question.

"Why did you kill my son?"

She says seeing the sentencing of her son's killer helps, but her pain runs deep.

"Nobody knows unless they've gone through it how it feels to lose a child ... and one I can be really proud of ... and I never want him forgotten."

David Poppiti has already served more than 500 days in jail, but it will likely be at least 20 years before he is elligible for parole.

The other teenager riding with Poppiti during the January 2008 police chase testified during Poppiti's May trial that he tried to stop Poppiti during the chase. Juvenile court officials say his case has been resolved and he has served his sentence.


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