A man accused of killing an eastern Pennsylvania police officer said what happened "is the complete opposite" of the account given by state police.
But George Hitcho Jr., 46, told The (Allentown) Morning Call ( http://bit.ly/mVIrPW) in a recent telephone interview that his attorney had advised him not to give his version of events.
"I've never spent a day in prison and now I'm charged with this?" he said in the Oct. 10 interview.
Authorities say Freemansburg officer Robert Lasso had responded to an Aug. 11 domestic disturbance and had pointed a stun gun at two dogs when the homeowner allegedly pulled out a shotgun and fired. Lasso, 31, a married father of two, was pronounced dead a hospital shortly after that.
Officials said Hitcho later told police that he had told Lasso to get off his property and not come back unless he had a warrant.
"He tried to kill my dogs and pointed a gun in my face," authorities quoted him as saying, according to court documents. "I do not care if you a cop or not ... Unbelievable ... ."
The Northampton County district attorney is seeking the death penalty against Hitcho, who is being held without bail on homicide and other charges.
Hitcho said he wasn't a troublemaker but a master carpenter who sometimes helped neighbors with home improvement projects. He denied any animosity toward police and said he and the slain officer shared a fondness for dogs, and Lasso would sometimes pet his German shepherd.
"We've never had any problems with police, and my family would go out of our way to help police," he said.
Hitcho said his days in the county prison are spent in "survival mode." He told the newspaper in a Sept. 22 letter that coverage of the shooting had "almost killed" his mother and father but said in the phone interview that his attorney had told him that there was "light at the end of the tunnel, and that light isn't an oncoming train."
"I'm hopeful, but this has been like a nightmare for me, even worse for my family," he said. "I'm afraid for my kids, I'm afraid for my family. The letters and visits, they are the only things that keep me going."