MILFORD, Pa. (Thursday, April 19) - Eric Matthew Frein was found “guilty' on all charges by his jury in Pike County Court, early Thursday evening.
MILFORD, Pa. (Thursday, April 19) - Eric Matthew Frein was found “guilty’ on all charges by his jury in Pike County Court, early Thursday evening.
His charges include the act of gunning down and murdering a Pennsylvania State Police trooper and the attempted slaying of a second trooper the night of September 12, 2014, during a shift change outside the Blooming Grove barracks.
Frein’s trial came two and a half years after that fateful sniper attack along Route 402 in Pike County.
His jury must now decide his penalty: Life or Death.
Frein’s fate rested in the hands of jurors selected from Chester County, west of Philadelphia. the Defense has successfully argued for a jury from out of the area, due to the high amount of publicity the case received, especially in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Described as a survivalist, Frein, age 33 and from Canadensis, was arrested October 30, 2014, following an intense, 48-day manhunt through the Pocono forests of central and western Pike County and northern Monroe County. Approximately 1,000 law enforcement were involved, with the PA State Police being assisted by State Police from many other states, the FBI, U.S. Marshall’s Service, and other federal, state and local agencies.
His victims were Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II, who was killed, and Trooper Alex Douglass, who was critically injured.
Frein was found guilty of all 12 charges, including murder of a law enforcement officer, terrorism and two weapons of mass destruction - concerning small explosive devices he left in the woods during the manhunt.
The Associated Press noted that the death penalty verdict would send Frein to death row, but the state has a moratorium on executions under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Pennsylvania’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.
By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writer
MILFORD, Pa. (Wednesday, April 19) - “On the night of Sept. 12, 2014, a terrorist with murder in his heart, a plan in his mind and a rifle in his hands slithered under cover of darkness, positioned himself in the woods 87 yards across Route 402 from the front entrance of the state police Blooming Grove barracks and waited to strike.”
This is how Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin, at the start of his closing argument to the jury Wednesday, referred to Eric Frein of Canadensis.
“He struck with one rifle shot and then another,” Tonkin said, referring to the bullets Frein allegedly fired into Cpl. Bryon Dickson, killing Dickson who was exiting the building to head home after finishing his shift that night.
“He then waited for 90 seconds and struck again,” Tonkin said, referring to the bullet that wounded Trooper Alex Douglass as Douglass came to the fallen Dickson’s aid. “Under cover of darkness, he then slithered away.
“This murdering terrorist now sits before you, right over there,” Tonkin said, gesturing toward Frein who sat quietly between defense attorneys.
For the next hour and 45 minutes, Tonkin recounted for the jury the mountain of evidence it has taken 10 days to present against Frein, who was captured in Pocono Township after a 48-day manhunt.
Tonkin’s closing argument was much longer than defense attorney Michael Weinstein’s 10-minute address.
“This is a tragedy of monumental proportions that has affected two families, the state police and an entire county,” Weinstein said. “Presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt are two great pillars of our American justice system,” Weinstein said, acknowledging the amount of evidence against Frein. “It’s up to you, the jury, to determine if (the prosecution has) removed that presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Weinstein raised the following points:
• Three days after the shootings, a resident walking his dog discovered what turned out to be the abandoned Jeep Frein is believed to have driven from the scene and then accidentally gotten stuck in a drainage retention pond not far from the police barracks. It was the resident, not law enforcement aircraft searching from overhead, who discovered this Jeep, Weinstein said.
• Frein doesn’t own the rifle believed to be the murder weapon, which was among evidence recovered from where he was captured.
• Are Frein’s demeanor and responses to police questioning, during the three-hour interview videotaped after his capture, evident of someone with a pre-meditating homicidal mentality?
“The defendant in this case has exercised his right not to testify, which you as the jury cannot hold against him,” Weinstein said.
“Again, please evaluate all of the evidence and determine if it proves Mr. Frein guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “We have great faith in our justice system. We have faith you’ll make the right decision.”
The jury is deliberating this afternoon. If Frein is convicted of first-degree murder, the most serious of the charges against him, the trial will proceed to the penalty phase Thursday, after which the jury will decide to sentence him to death or life in prison without parole.