Sur­vival­ist seeks to avoid death penalty in po­lice am­bush.

Man who am­bushed cops seeks life in prison

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY MICHAEL RU­BINKAM

A sur­vival­ist who shot and killed a Pennsylvania State Po­lice trooper and in­jured an­other in an am­bush at their bar­racks will now fight for his own life, fol­low­ing his con­vic­tion on cap­i­tal mur­der charges.

Eric Frein, 33, was con­victed Wed­nes­day of all 12 charges he faced more than two years af­ter tar­get­ing the state po­lice in a late-night sniper at­tack.

The fo­cus now shifts to the im­pact of Frein’s crimes. He killed Cpl. Bryon Dick­son, a 38-yearold Marine vet­eran who left be­hind a wife and two young sons, and crit­i­cally wounded Trooper Alex Dou­glass, who was shot through both hips as he came to the aid of his mor­tally wounded com­rade and suf­fers from a range of health prob­lems.

Pros­e­cu­tors will ask the same jury that con­victed Frein to send him to death row, while de­fense lawyers will ar­gue for a sen­tence of life with­out pa­role. The penalty phase be­gan Thurs­day af­ter­noon and is ex­pected to wrap up early next week.

Frein melted into the woods af­ter tak­ing four shots with a high-pow­ered ri­fle, elud­ing cap­ture for nearly seven weeks. Pros­e­cu­tors say he opened fire on ran­dom troop­ers at the Bloom­ing Grove bar­racks in the Po­cono Mountains be­cause he was try­ing to spark a rev­o­lu­tion.

Pike County District At­tor­ney Ray Tonkin called Frein a ter­ror­ist and told re­porters af­ter the guilty ver­dict that he in­tends to seek “full jus­tice” for the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies.

“This case is not yet over. We have a very se­ri­ous and somber pro­ceed­ing to go through,” he said.

Frein was con­victed of first-de­gree mur­der of a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, at­tempted mur­der, ter­ror­ism and two weapons of mass de­struc­tion counts re­lated to the small bombs he left in the woods dur­ing the man­hunt.

The ver­dict was ex­pected af­ter pros­e­cu­tors pre­sented more than 500 pieces of ev­i­dence ty­ing Frein to the am­bush. His DNA was found on the trig­ger of the mur­der weapon, and po­lice re­cov­ered sev­eral hand­writ­ten notebook pages at Frein’s camp­site in which he de­scribed the at­tack and his sub­se­quent es­cape into the woods in chilling de­tail.

He also wrote a let­ter to his par­ents in which he ad­vo­cated rev­o­lu­tion as a way to “get us back the lib­er­ties we once had.”

The de­fense said Frein de­served to live de­spite his “das­tardly acts,” as his lawyer put it.

“We would like to present Eric in the most sym­pa­thetic light that we can,” said lawyer Wil­liam Ruzzo. “The way they vil­lainized him, we can’t make him a holy man, but we’re try­ing to make him a man.”

He in­sisted Frein has an “in­ner core of good­ness.” A death sen­tence would send Frein to death row, but the state has a mora­to­rium on ex­e­cu­tions un­der Demo­cratic Gov. Tom Wolf. The state’s last ex­e­cu­tion was in 1999, and it has ex­e­cuted only three peo­ple since the U.S. Supreme Court re­stored the death penalty in 1976.

Mr. Wolf ap­plauded the ver­dict but didn’t ad­dress Frein’s sen­tence.

“To­day jus­tice was served and a bru­tal mur­derer will be held ac­count­able for his heinous and cow­ardly acts against mem­bers of the Pennsylvania State Po­lice,” he said in a state­ment.

Po­lice linked Frein to the am­bush af­ter a man walk­ing his dog dis­cov­ered his partly sub­merged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles from the shooting scene. In­side, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found shell cas­ings match­ing those found at the bar­racks and Frein’s driver’s li­cense.

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