clear
Monday October 22nd, 2018 9:01PM

Trooper slaying appeal focuses on how suspect was questioned

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's highest court on Thursday peppered a defense lawyer and a prosecutor with questions 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.

Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said that 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, apparently out of concern children would find them.

Frein also told the two troopers that Dickson's slaying meant "a father didn't come home."

"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.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Multiple people hurt after school bus, dump truck crash
Authorities say a school bus and dump truck have collided on a New Jersey highway and multiple people are injured
12:11PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Trooper slaying appeal focuses on how suspect was questioned
A man on death row for killing one Pennsylvania state trooper and wounding another to act out his anti-government beliefs wants the state Supreme Court grant him a new trial
12:11PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Burundi votes on extending president's power until 2034
Burundi votes on extending president's power until 2034; 'intimidations of all sorts'
11:59AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Restored WWII bomber Memphis Belle makes public debut
After a 13-year restoration project, the World War II bomber Memphis Belle went on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio
11:20AM ( 55 minutes ago )
Ethics director forwards concerns to DOJ over Cohen payment
Ethics director questions why Trump didn't disclose last year that he owed personal attorney Michael Cohen for unspecified "expenses"
11:14AM ( 1 hour ago )
Business acquaintance of California blast victim arrested
The FBI says the investigation into a deadly building explosion in Southern California has led to the arrest of a man on suspicion of possession of an unregistered destructive device
11:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Election hacking puts focus on paperless voting machines
As the midterm congressional primaries heat up amid warnings of Russian hacking, 1 in 5 Americans will be casting their ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes
9:41AM ( 2 hours ago )
Teachers who led strikes now turning focus to elections
As they packed up their protest signs and returned to the classroom to finish out the school year, thousands of teachers in North Carolina turned their attention to a different fight: the midterm elections
9:20AM ( 2 hours ago )
Sea otters 'stuck' despite comeback in California
Despite decades of government protection, southern sea otters on West Coast still only occupy about a fraction of their historic range.
9:03AM ( 3 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Multiple people hurt after school bus, dump truck crash
Authorities say a school bus and dump truck have collided on a New Jersey highway and multiple people are injured
12:11PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Burundi votes on extending president's power until 2034
Burundi votes on extending president's power until 2034; 'intimidations of all sorts'
11:59AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Putin: Russia to press ahead with military modernization
President Vladimir Putin says that Russia will maintain a high tempo of modernizing its military arsenals this year
11:50AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Seoul pushes for successful Trump-Kim talks as North warns
North Korea has criticized South Korea over ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises and said it will not return to talks with its rival until Seoul resolves its grievances
11:44AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Bennett wins 12th stage, Yates maintains Giro d'Italia lead
Sam Bennett of Ireland has pulled off a superb final attack to win the 12th stage of the Giro d'Italia as Simon Yates remained in the overall lead of the race
11:41AM ( 35 minutes ago )