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St. Pat's Sex Defendant Dies

Headshots of Loretta Lynn Harper, left, and Brian Florence as they leave Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2002. The pair were in court on charges of public lewdness for alledgedly having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral while the act was described on-air for a local radio show.
AP
A man who was to appear in court Tuesday on charges of having sex with his girlfriend inside St. Patrick's Cathedral as part of a radio show stunt has died at his home in Virginia.

Brian Florence, 38, died last Thursday of a heart attack in Alexandria, said the couple's lawyer, Maranda Fritz. She said the funeral was Monday, and his co-defendant and girlfriend, Loretta Lynn Harper, 36, is "still in a state of shock."

The judge adjourned the case until Nov. 6. Fritz said her clients had expected to plead guilty to a minor charge and not receive any jail time.

A third man involved in the case, radio producer Paul Mercurio, 43, pleaded guilty earlier in the day to disorderly conduct. The judge ordered him to perform seven days of community service.

Authorities said a police officer was listening to the "Opie and Anthony Show" in August 2002 when he heard Mercurio say on the air that he was speaking on a cell phone while watching the couple in the cathedral. The officer arrested Florence and Harper shortly afterward in a vestibule a few feet from worshippers.

The stunt had been part of a regular feature in which couples could win prizes for having sex in public places.

The couple's alleged antics inside the landmark cathedral resulted in WNEW-FM firing DJs Greg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia.

By Samuel Maull