Trial opens for sus­pect in state trooper sniper killing

1 killed; sur­vivor has en­dured 18 surg­eries

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY MICHAEL RUBINKAM

MIL­FORD, PA. | A prose­cu­tor asked jurors Tues­day to de­liver “full jus­tice” in the trial of a man ac­cused of killing a po­lice trooper and in­jur­ing a sec­ond in a 2014 sniper at­tack at their barracks, call­ing the de­fen­dant an as­sas­sin who tar­geted law en­force­ment in hopes of spark­ing a rev­o­lu­tion.

Eric Frein “slith­ered through the un­der­brush” in the dark of night, con­cealed him­self in woods across the street from the Bloom­ing Grove barracks in north­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, and took aim at Cpl. Bryon Dick­son II and Trooper Alex Dou­glass dur­ing a late-night shift change, Pike County First As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Bruce DeSarro told the panel dur­ing his open­ing state­ment.

“Right then and right there, Cpl. Dick­son’s ser­vice and his watch on be­half of all of us came to an end,” Mr. DeSarro said.

Trooper Dou­glass, he added, has en­dured 18 surg­eries in the wake of the am­bush on Sept. 12, 2014. Trooper Dou­glass was in the court­room Tues­day and is ex­pected to tes­tify.

Mr. Frein, 33, faces a po­ten­tial death sen­tence if he’s con­victed.

Wear­ing a suit, he lis­tened sto­ically as the prose­cu­tor me­thod­i­cally laid out the case against him, de­scrib­ing the at­tack, the chaotic af­ter­math, Mr. Frein’s es­cape and the 48-day man­hunt that fol­lowed.

Mr. DeSarro told the jury that U.S. mar­shals cap­tured one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugi­tives at an aban­doned air­plane han­gar where au­thor­i­ties also found the mur­der weapon — a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle — with Mr. Frein’s DNA on it.

Af­ter speak­ing for an hour and 40 min­utes, Mr. DeSarro asked the jury to pro­vide “noth­ing less, and I mean noth­ing less, than full jus­tice.” The words were spelled out in gi­ant blue let­ters on a TV screen as Mr. DeSarro said them.

Mr. Frein’s at­tor­ney’s open­ing state­ment, mean­while, took only six min­utes.

De­fense lawyer Michael We­in­stein re­minded jurors that Mr. Frein is pre­sumed in­no­cent and said the gov­ern­ment must prove its case. Mr. Frein won’t take the stand, he said, but jurors will get to know him when they watch a video­taped in­ter­view that po­lice con­ducted on the night of his ar­rest.

“It will give you a chance to meet Eric. It will give you a chance to see what he’s like,” Mr. We­in­stein said.

The de­fense had tried to sup­press Mr. Frein’s con­fes­sion, as­sert­ing po­lice had vi­o­lated his right to re­main si­lent, but a judge ruled the jury would be per­mit­ted to see it.

Mr. DeSarro showed jurors the crum­pled note­book pages that po­lice found dur­ing the man­hunt — part of a jour­nal writ­ten in Mr. Frein’s hand in which the gun­man de­scribes how he “got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,” watch­ing one of his vic­tims fall “still and quiet.”

Mr. DeSarro also showed them por­tions of a let­ter that au­thor­i­ties say Mr. Frein wrote to his par­ents while on the run.


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