MILFORD (Monday morning, April 10) - U.S. Marshal Scott Malkowski testified Monday morning, the fifth day of Eric Frein's trial, to keeping a rifle aimed at Frein, who was lying face-down on the ground, and putting his foot on the back of Frein's head.
Charged in a Sept. 12, 2014 sniper ambush that killed one trooper and wounded another outside the state police Blooming Grove barracks, Frein was captured Oct. 30, 2014 outside an airfield hangar on the abandoned Birchwood Resort property in Pocono Township, ending a 48-day manhunt.
When captured, Frein told U.S. Marshals there were two rifles and a gun in the hangar and that he was concerned about the safety of any children coming across those guns, according to the defense.
Earlier testimony focused on notes which were found during the manhunt and are believed to have been written by Frein. These notes detail what authorities believe is the sniper ambush and Frein's actions afterward.
(Friday afternoon, April 7) - In the days following the September 2014 sniper attack that killed one trooper and wounded another outside the state police Blooming Grove barracks, authorities were on edge as they combed the Blooming Grove Township woods in Pike County and Barrett Township woods in Monroe County, where accused sniper Eric Frein's family lived and still lives.
Law enforcement agencies stayed ready for anything while looking for Frein's trail, at one point finding diapers filled with feces in the woods, according to testimony Friday, the fourth day of Frein's trial.
A scary moment came on Sept. 29, 2014, 17 days after the fatal shooting of Cpl. Bryon Dickson and Trooper Alex Douglass, as the investigation and manhunt for Frein continued.
FBI SWAT personnel came across and then secured a campsite in the woods near Laurel Run Road in Barrett Township while state police investigators processed the campsite.
Someone, believed to be Frein, had concealed the site under camouflage netting and a canvas tarp, but SWAT was able to spot an unconcealed blue plaid pillow case leading to the site's discovery.
"We found there was no one hiding under the tarp," Special Agent Matthew Fontaine with the FBI's Albany, N.Y., office testified, a certified sniper himself. "The campsite's location and positioning indicated it had been set up by someone who wanted the advantage of being undetected by anyone approaching. We realized how exposed to sniper fire we were during our approach."
Found at the campsite were clothes and various survival and hygiene items including a camouflage bag and back pack.
State police investigator Sean Doran testified to looking into the back pack and seeing something that caused him to back away and evacuate the campsite.
"There were two improvised explosive devices (IEDs)," Doran said. "One was in a cellophane bag by itself and the other was with party poppers in a separate cellophane bag."
Both IEDs were circular and measured several inches in length. One had a fuse.
Hardware nuts had been super-glued onto the bodies of both IEDs. These hardware nuts were meant to act as shrapnel that would fly out and tear the flesh of any people in the vicinity upon explosion.
A bomb squad was called in to safely remove and secure the IEDs, which turned out not to be dangerous, Doran said.
Under defense cross-examination, Fontaine testified FBI SWAT did not take pictures of the campsite immediately upon discovering it because the priority at the time was to ensure the scene was clear of any snipers and safe for both law enforcement and any civilians happening along.
Meant to be found?
"The whole point of being a sniper is to stay concealed, correct?," defense attorney Michael Weinstein asked Fontaine. "This campsite apparently wasn't very concealed if you were able to spot it, so what makes you think it was a sniper's campsite?"
This raised another question of whether whoever had concealed the site had meant for it to be found by intentionally leaving the blue plaid pillow case unconcealed, thus allowing authorities to discover it.
The campsite discovery came 13 days after authorities searched the Frein residence in Canadensis, finding long guns, a sniper instruction manual, bomb-making materials, incendiary devices and other items investigators believe tie Frein to the police barracks sniper attack.
Frein's father, Eugene Frein, testified Friday to living there with his wife (Eric's mother) and daughter (Eric's sister).
Eugene Frein said Eric had last lived with the family in July 2014, but returned for weekend visits and had last stopped by to pick up a pair of hiking boots three days before the shootings. A pair of hiking boots in Frein's size was found at the campsite, investigators testified.
The prosecution as of Friday had called 27 witnesses to testify and entered 224 items, including crime scene and evidence collection photos, into evidence. The trial could last more than a month.
If Frein is convicted of first-degree murder, the most serious of the charges against him, he will face the death penalty or life in prison without parole, depending on what the jury decides. Testimony is scheduled to continue Monday, with jurors chosen from Chester County expected to return from weekend visits to their homes.
Searched his home
(Friday morning, April 7) -”Precise fire from key positions at selected targets to kill enemy personnel and weaken enemy morale."
That's a sniper's mission as defined in "Sniper Training and Employment," one of the books found on the bookshelf in the bedroom of Eric Frein's Canadensis home. The book includes a diagram of a sniper's rifle and related equipment and instructions on proper maintenance, as well as information on marksmanship, field techniques and training exercises and night operations.
Frein was captured Oct. 30, 2014, ending a 48-day manhunt in the Poconos.
On Friday, the fourth day of his trial, Frein sat with his attorneys, occasionally whispering to them and taking notes, while listening to state police investigators' testimony and seeing the jury presented with pictures of items confiscated from his home.
Frein wasn't there days after the shootings, when his family was escorted from their home by a state police Special Emergency Response Team so that investigators could execute a search warrant on the residence. He was believed to be evading capture by hiding at the time.
Investigators' testimony Friday morning spotlighted a list of items the prosecution says incriminates Frein in Dickson's murder and Douglass' injury.
The items found in Frein's bedroom include a rack containing about a dozen long guns, a bookshelf containing camouflage caps and binoculars, cigarettes similar to ones found in the Jeep believed to have been abandoned by Frein shortly after the shootings and a picture board containing military decals and a photo of Frein posing in Serbian military reenactment gear. Also found in the bedroom were boxes of ammunition, the contents of which were laid out on the courtroom floor before the jury, rifle clips, a rifle barrel and a night vision monocular container, along with a 1969 U.S. Army instruction manual.
Under a dresser was a plastic bag containing small metal pipes with end caps.
On a table were a propellant, black powder, a mortar-and-pestle bowl containing black powder residue, a wooden box containing improvised party poppers, a plastic cup containing suspected black powder and spools of wire. Also found were a box containing a .308-caliber rifle scope, ballistic calculations on a sheet of paper and M2 tactical rifle scope specifications.
On a sheet of legal pad paper were drawings and listed items including rack, rifle, magazines, ammunition, pistol, scope, bombs and various survival items. On another similar sheet of paper was a "to-do" list of items including cleaning the Jeep believed to have been driven from the shooting scene and then abandoned, equipment/outfit reassessment and room-cleaning, along with another list of items including ammunition, compass, maps, bayonet, batteries, rifle, pistol and binoculars.
Found on a work bench in the Frein family basement were 14 or 15 spent rifle cartridge casings.
[Editor’s note: Daily updates from Eric Frein’s trial are posted regularly at www.neagle.com.]