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Death penalty upheld in Pennsylvania troopers’ ambush

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania’s highest court upheld the death sentence and conviction on Friday of a sniper who killed a Pennsylvania state trooper and wounded another in a night ambush outside their barracks in a heavily wooded part of northeast Pennsylvania.

The state Supreme Court decision upholds lower-court decisions in the case of Eric Frein, who was sentenced in the 2014 murder of Cpl. Bryon Dickson II outside the Blooming Grove barracks. Another trooper, Alex Douglass, was seriously wounded.

In a 45-page opinion, supported by five of the court’s seven judges, Justice Debra Todd wrote that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support a first degree murder conviction and the death penalty.

The court also rejected a number of challenges by Frein lawyers, including one in which she argued that the court violated Frein the right to silence and the right to a lawyer by the jury to see his post-arrest video interview with the police.

After the ambush, Frein led authorities on a 48-day manhunt through the rugged Pocono Mountains before U.s. marshals caught him in an abandoned airplane hangar. The environment was a short time transformed, with heavily armed federal agents and police from different states who patrol the streets, combing forests and cordoning off areas

Frein was convicted in 2017. He died in a row, but the most recent execution in Pennsylvania was nearly two decades ago. The state of the current Democratic governor has said he will grant a reprieve each time an execution is scheduled until the Legislature addresses problems identified in a report last year. Gov. Tom Wolf has called the system “ineffective, unjust and expensive.”

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