Death sentence for killer of 3 Pittsburgh police officers

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 28, 2011 10:03 PM
Death sentence for killer of 3 Pittsburgh police officers

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to death on Tuesday for killing three Pittsburgh police officers who responded to a domestic dispute at his mother's house in 2009.

Richard Poplawski, 24, was found guilty over the weekend of murder and other charges for fatally shooting officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo on April 4, 2009, at the house in the city's Stanton Heights neighborhood.

Poplawski's mother had called 911 to report a domestic dispute. He was arrested after being wounded during a three-hour standoff with police.

His mother said she had argued with her son that morning after discovering his dog had urinated inside the house, according to a criminal complaint filed by police.

She said Poplawski had been discharged from the Marine Corps for assaulting his drill sergeant and had been stockpiling guns and ammunition because he believed police were no longer able to protect society due to the economic collapse, according to court documents.

On Tuesday evening, a jury of seven men and five women reached a verdict of three death sentences, said Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney's office.

The decision came after family members testified during the penalty phase of the trial, which began on Monday.

The jury had been transported across the state from Dauphin County to avoid the influence of pretrial publicity.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering, Edited by Peter Bohan)