Trial ending for Pennsylvania man who eluded manhunt in trooper ambush

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 19, 2017 9:55 AM

By Joe McDonald

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - The trial of Eric Frein, a Pennsylvania outdoorsman accused of killing a state trooper in a 2014 sniper attack that triggered a massive manhunt, wraps up with closing arguments on Wednesday.

Not a single defense witness was called in the case in which Frein, 33, of Canadensis, faces the death penalty if he is convicted of the top charge of first-degree murder of a law-enforcement officer.

Frein is a survivalist, a person skilled in outdoor living who aims to survive a catastrophe or dramatic event such as nuclear war or revolution.

The final prosecution witness in his trial was a forensic pathologist who testified that both gunshots that struck Corporal Bryan Dickson II, 38, in the ambush outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12, 2014 were lethal to him.

Frein also is charged with the attempted murder of Trooper Alex Douglass, 34, who was wounded as he attempted to help Dickson, and terrorism.

Douglass choked up as he testified earlier this week before the jury at Pike County Courthouse in Milford.

Prosecutors charge that the late-night ambush in the parking lot of the rural Blooming Grove state police barracks was aimed at sparking a "revolution." The suspect had harbored anti-government views for years, they say.

At trial, prosecutors put into evidence a letter they say Frein wrote to his parents while on the run which says only “passing through the crucible of another revolution can get us back the liberties we once had.”

Prosecution witnesses testified about the 48-day manhunt that Frein, an experienced outdoorsman, eluded through the dense forests of the Pocono Mountains, about 100 miles north of Philadelphia, in the northeast corner of the state.

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Frein lived at his family's home not far from the barracks where the ambush took place. After the ambush, he is accused of fleeing into the surrounding mountains.

The $11 million manhunt, which put him on the FBI's most wanted list and left the community on edge for weeks, ended when he was captured by U.S. marshals outside an abandoned airplane hangar in a former resort near Tannersville, Pennsylvania.

Frein, who took part in Cold War-era battle reenactments, studied the Russian and Serbian languages and was a member of the shooting team at Pocono High school.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Frances Kerry)