Trial underway for accused killer of three police officers

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 20, 2011 3:58 PM
Trial underway for accused killer of three police officers

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Dozens of police officers gathered outside a Pennsylvania courthouse on Monday to show support for the families of three slain officers, as the trial of their accused killer got underway.

Richard Poplawski, 24, of Pittsburgh allegedly shot and killed Pittsburgh police officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo at his mother's house in the city's Stanton Heights neighborhood.

His mother had called 911 to report a domestic dispute on April 4, 2009. The suspect was arrested after being wounded following a three-hour standoff with police, according to court documents.

If convicted of the charges, including multiple counts of criminal homicide, he faces a maximum penalty of death.

Poplawski's mother said she had argued with her son that morning after discovering his dog had urinated inside the house, and that she was calling police to have him removed, court documents said.

She said her son had been discharged from the Marine Corps a few years earlier for assaulting his drill sergeant during training. She said he had been stockpiling guns and ammunition because he believed police were no longer able to protect society due to the economic collapse.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney's office, said 18 jurors had been brought to Pittsburgh from Dauphin County for the trial, which was expected to last two weeks.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)