Closing arguments scheduled in trooper ambush trial

Danny Woods
April 20, 2017

Jurors began deliberating the case Wednesday afternoon against a survivalist who killed a Pennsylvania State Police trooper and critically wounded a second trooper in an ambush at their barracks in Pike County in 2014.

In 10 days, prosecutors presented 54 witnesses and introduced almost 540 pieces of evidence, including pages detailing the shooting from a journal Frein wrote while on the run, DNA analysis linking Frein to the Norinco rifle used during the shooting, pipe bombs found at a campsite Frein used, a letter to his parents about the need for a revolution and his videotaped confession from the night of his capture.

The trial of Eric Frein, a Pennsylvania outdoorsman accused of killing a state trooper in a 2014 sniper attack that triggered a massive manhunt, wraps up with closing arguments on Wednesday.

Tonkin, who presents his case first, will offer two aggravating circumstances: Dickson was a police officer murdered in the line of duty and the killer risked injuring others by firing into the barracks. A second trooper, Alex Douglass, was shot as he tried to help Dickson and was left with debilitating injuries.

Frein, who led police on a 48-day manhunt through the Pocono Mountains before his capture by US marshals, faces a potential death sentence if he's convicted of killing Cpl. He faces the death penalty if convicted of murder.

The prosecution presented dozens of witnesses and more than 500 pieces of evidence.

Defense lawyer Bill Ruzzo says he'll appeal to jurors to spare Frein's life. He says the defense team "can't make him a holy man" but they're "trying to make him a man".

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Eric Frein was convicted on a total of 12 charges, including first-degree murder, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Frein was on trial for shooting state police Cpl. Inside, officers found spent shell casings and Frein's driver's license.

The discovery sparked a manhunt that involved 1,000 law enforcement officials and spanned more than 300 square miles. Trick or treating was canceled.

Eric Frein's laptop was used to search online for "how to escape a manhunt" and "how are manhunts conducted" in May 2013.

The letter said in part that "only passing through the crucible of another revolution can get us back the liberties we once had". Addressed to "Mom and Dad", it spoke of revolution and said, "The time seems right for a spark to ignite a fire in the hearts of men". "What I have done has not been done before and it felt like it was worth a try".

Tonkin is seeking the death penalty. He could face a death sentence if convicted.

As the verdict was read, Frein, standing with his hands clasped, puffy circles under his eyes, stared blankly at the jury.

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