Accused Cop Killer Eric Frein Pleads Not Guilty, But Prosecutors Are Asking For The Death Penalty
After a long manhunt, accused cop killer Eric Frein pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges Thursday after allegedly attacking Pennsylvania state trooper barracks, killing an officer, and wounding another. Frein lead authorities on a nearly two-month manhunt through northeast Pennsylvania until he was captured Oct. 31. He was not in court in person and pleaded not guilty via video. At the arraignment, Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin officially notified the court he would seek the death penalty. Frein faces charges of terrorism and first-degree murder, as well as other charges.
Frein is accused of ambushing police barracks in Blooming Grove, a township in Pike County, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and seriously injuring Trooper Alex Douglass in the September 12 assault. Frein hid for weeks, leading law enforcement on an intensive manhunt that ended on Halloween. He had been hiding out in an airplane hangar, and was arrested without any serious casualties.
During Frein's seven weeks on the lam, the 7,000 residents of northeast Pennsylvania's Price and Barrett townships endured checkpoints, lock-downs, a continuous swarm of law enforcement officers, and fears that beloved Halloween trick-or-treating would be kiboshed.
When Frein was found at a local airport, he was surprisingly prepared for a long, comfortable stay. He had contact lenses, toiletries, cooking supplies, nail clippers, salt, and pepper. It's all bone chilling, especially when considered in context of Frein's grisly, cold-blooded description of killing Dickson, a 38-year-old Marine Corps veteran and father of two.
"Friday, September 12th, got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it. He dropped. I was surprised at how quick," he wrote. He then went on to describe purposely shooting again until Dickson lay "still and quiet."
Frein is one of several people who gripped the nation with their alleged crimes and are now facing the death penalty in their trials. James Holmes, who is accused of gunning down and killing 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting spree, faces the death penalty as his trial gets underway. Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial began Jan. 5, after his lawyers were unable to relocate the trial. Earlier this week, Tsarnaev's trial was delayed because jury selection has proven to be so difficult.
Jury selection is often slow in death penalty cases because finding a "death-qualified" juror who is willing to give a death sentence is increasingly difficult. Attorneys are looking for a juror who would consider capital punishment, but in cases such as those that Frein, Holmes, and Tsarnaev face, the nation is often so bombarded with media about the subject that finding an impartial jury isn't easy. Where any of their cases go from here is unknown.
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