Trooper slaying appeal focuses on how suspect was questioned - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Trooper slaying appeal focuses on how suspect was questioned

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Rich Schultz, File). FILE – In this Oct. 31, 2014, file photo, Eric Frein, left, is escorted out by police after his arraignment at the Pike County Courthouse in Milford, Pa. Lawyers for Frein, on death row for fatally shooting Pennsylvania S... (AP Photo/Rich Schultz, File). FILE – In this Oct. 31, 2014, file photo, Eric Frein, left, is escorted out by police after his arraignment at the Pike County Courthouse in Milford, Pa. Lawyers for Frein, on death row for fatally shooting Pennsylvania S...
  • NationalMore>>

  • NYPD probing sex allegations against Mario Batali

    NYPD probing sex allegations against Mario Batali

    Sunday, May 20 2018 11:07 PM EDT2018-05-21 03:07:56 GMT
    (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this Wednesday, April 19, 2017, file photo, chef Mario Batali attends an awards event in New York. The New York Police Department is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct leveled celebrit...(Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this Wednesday, April 19, 2017, file photo, chef Mario Batali attends an awards event in New York. The New York Police Department is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct leveled celebrit...
    The New York Police Department is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct leveled celebrity chef Mario Batali.More >>
    The New York Police Department is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct leveled celebrity chef Mario Batali.More >>
  • Texas mourners endure grief that 'none of us can comprehend'

    Texas mourners endure grief that 'none of us can comprehend'

    Sunday, May 20 2018 11:07 PM EDT2018-05-21 03:07:53 GMT
    (AP Photo/David J. Phillip). A tape cross with the initials of victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting is placed over the dugout of the Santa Fe baseball team before a baseball game against Kingwood Park High School in Deer Park, Texas, Saturday, ...(AP Photo/David J. Phillip). A tape cross with the initials of victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting is placed over the dugout of the Santa Fe baseball team before a baseball game against Kingwood Park High School in Deer Park, Texas, Saturday, ...
    The suspect in the Texas school shooting pointed at one person and declared: "I'm going to kill you." Then he fired.More >>
    The suspect in the Texas school shooting pointed at one person and declared: "I'm going to kill you." Then he fired.More >>
  • Investigators finally get look at materials from Cohen raid

    Investigators finally get look at materials from Cohen raid

    Sunday, May 20 2018 11:07 PM EDT2018-05-21 03:07:42 GMT
    Criminal investigators are finally getting to study materials seized in raids on the home and office of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer.More >>
    Criminal investigators are finally getting to study materials seized in raids on the home and office of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer.More >>

By MARK SCOLFORO
Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's highest court peppered a defense lawyer and a prosecutor with questions Thursday about the police interrogation of a man later convicted of killing one state trooper and wounding another to act out his anti-government beliefs.

Eric Frein, 35, on death row for the September 2014 ambush slaying of Cpl. Bryon Dickson II outside a police station in the Pocono Mountains, is arguing he deserves a new trial because investigators got a confession out of him after he declined to waive his Miranda right to remain silent.

"We believe it's a simple matter, that if Mr. Frein unequivocally asserted his right to silence, then the commonwealth should have scrupulously honored the invocation of that right," said his lawyer, William Ruzzo.

He said that if investigators wanted to question him, they would have needed a waiver by Frein of his Miranda rights, made after some time had elapsed after he first declined to waive those rights, or in a location different from where he was initially interrogated.

Some justices indicated they may end up weighing that issue against what was described as a vast amount of evidence used to convict him.

"Tell me why this should not be harmless error and we allow this conviction to stand?" asked Justice Kevin Dougherty.

Ruzzo said the videotaped confession was "like no other evidence" and "so damaging that it was tough to repair," showing Frein smoking a cigarette and seeming to be comfortable with the pair of investigators.

He said the image of Frein that it captured also affected the decision to impose the death penalty.

"There's a ton of - there's a lot of evidence, there's no question about that," Ruzzo told the justices.

After Frein was read his Miranda rights, he said he did want to talk about where he had hidden a rifle or rifles in the woods, which Ruzzo said was prompted by concern children would find them.

Frein also told the two troopers that Dickson's slaying meant "a father didn't come home," Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said.

"This is ambiguous, 'I'll talk to you about some stuff but not others,'" Tonkin said. "He doesn't unambiguously say, 'I don't want to talk to you.'"

Defense lawyers are also arguing that the state police should have permitted Frein to speak with an attorney his family retained the night he was captured. The lawyer was kept outside during three hours of questioning.

They also say the trial judge allowed too much testimony about the impact of the crime on victims - 10 witnesses over two days - describing it in a court filing as "emotionally charged, cumulative and much more prejudicial than probative."

Frein was convicted of lying in wait outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks in September 2014 before killing Dickson with two shots and leaving Trooper Alex Douglass so badly wounded he has required at least 18 major surgeries.

Frein was identified as a suspect soon after the shooting, in part because a neighbor noticed his vehicle had been abandoned after becoming stuck in a drainage pond not far from the murder scene. Frein left his wallet inside the vehicle.

Prosecutors have said Frein spoke of wanting to start a revolution and described Dickson's slaying as an "assassination." Frein allegedly said he wanted to "wake people up" and "make a change (in government)."

In a letter to his parents drafted while he was hiding out, Frein wrote that he did not "know what the revolution will look like or even if it would be successful."

___

This story has been corrected to say Frein's lawyer is William Ruzzo, not Russo.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More From wfmj.comHot ClicksMore>>

  • Hawaii volcano eruption costs tourism industry millions

    Hawaii volcano eruption costs tourism industry millions

    Wednesday, May 16 2018 1:53 PM EDT2018-05-16 17:53:52 GMT
    (AP Photo/Caleb Jones). Gases rise from lava fissure 17 after it erupted early Sunday, May 13 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii. The new fissure emitting steam and lava spatter spurred Hawaii officials to call for more evacuations on Sunday as residents braced f...(AP Photo/Caleb Jones). Gases rise from lava fissure 17 after it erupted early Sunday, May 13 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii. The new fissure emitting steam and lava spatter spurred Hawaii officials to call for more evacuations on Sunday as residents braced f...
    A new fissure in Hawaii's Puna District sent gases and lava exploding into the air on Sunday, spurring officials to call for more evacuations as residents waited for a possible major eruption at Kilauea volcano's...More >>
    A new fissure in Hawaii's Puna District sent gases and lava exploding into the air on Sunday, spurring officials to call for more evacuations as residents waited for a possible major eruption at Kilauea volcano's summit.More >>
  • AT&T chief lobbyist out after hiring of Trump attorney Cohen

    AT&T chief lobbyist out after hiring of Trump attorney Cohen

    Tuesday, May 15 2018 10:33 AM EDT2018-05-15 14:33:19 GMT
    (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana). FILE - In this March 22, 2018 file photo, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson leaves the federal courthouse in Washington.  Stephenson says the company made a “big mistake” in hiring President Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Co...(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana). FILE - In this March 22, 2018 file photo, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. Stephenson says the company made a “big mistake” in hiring President Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Co...
    The chief lobbyist for AT&T is leaving the company after hiring of President Donald Trump's attorney Michael Cohen as a political consultant.More >>
    The chief lobbyist for AT&T is leaving the company after hiring of President Donald Trump's attorney Michael Cohen as a political consultant.More >>
  • Markle seeks respect for dad after report he'll skip wedding

    Markle seeks respect for dad after report he'll skip wedding

    Tuesday, May 15 2018 7:04 AM EDT2018-05-15 11:04:45 GMT
    (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth). Flags fly in front of the castle in Windsor, England, Monday, May 14, 2018. Preparations are being made in the town ahead of the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that will take place in Windsor on Satu...(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth). Flags fly in front of the castle in Windsor, England, Monday, May 14, 2018. Preparations are being made in the town ahead of the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that will take place in Windsor on Satu...
    Kensington Palace says Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are requesting "understanding and respect" for Markle's father after a celebrity news site reported he would not be coming to the royal wedding to...More >>
    Kensington Palace says Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are requesting "understanding and respect" for Markle's father after a celebrity news site reported he would not be coming to the royal wedding to walk his daughter down the aisle.More >>
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms