A Pennsylvania judge refused to overturn a cop killer’s death sentence this week in an “anticipated” move likely to force the case to state Supreme Court.
The Associated Press reported a Pike County judge on Monday denied the defense’s motion for a new sentencing hearing, just one week after Eric Frein’s attorneys argued emotional testimony from the slain officer’s widow clouded jurors’ judgement.
Michael Weinstein, one of Frein’s attorneys, said he expected the judge’s ruling and believes the case will work its way up to the state’s highest court, according to the AP.
Jurors found Frein guilty on April 20 of nearly a dozen charges stemming from the Sept. 12, 2014 ambush of two state troopers during a shift change at the Blooming Grove barracks in rural Pike County.
Cpl. Bryon Dickson II died in the attack. Trooper Alex Douglass sustained a gunshot wound to the back as he tried to pull Dickson to safety.
Frein received the death penalty for his crimes April 26. His attorneys vowed to appeal.
In court documents filed last week, the defense claimed Tiffany Dickson’s testimony undermined any “logical reasoned moral decision the jury could make” to instead impose life imprisonment.
During last month’s hearing, the defense cast the gunman’s father, Eugene Michael “Mike” Frein, as an abusive, domineering man who fostered his son’s anti-government views.
Prosecutors mocked the characterization and called it a poor deflection from the gunman’s “wickedness of heart” in what Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin described as a calculated and remorseless killing.
Tonkin “praised” the judge’s ruling Monday, according to the AP.