Pennsylvania cop killer execution on hold, indefinitely

An anti-government survivalist sentenced to death Thursday for ambushing two Pennsylvania state troopers in 2014 won’t be executed for his crimes anytime soon, if ever, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration ordered executions to a halt in February 2015, preferring instead to wait for the results of a Senate task force’s review of the state’s death penalty system.

More than 170 people sit on death row in Pennsylvania and the state hasn’t executed a single one since 1999. Since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty four decades ago, Pennsylvania carried out only three executions, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Wolf’s moratorium came nearly four months after law enforcement captured 33-year-old Eric Frein at an abandoned airstrip in the Pocono Mountains, capping off a six week manhunt that began the night Frein gunned down two state troopers during a shift change at the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Cpl. Bryon Dickson died during the September 2014 attack while Trooper Alex Douglass suffered a gunshot wound to the back as he tried to pull Dickson to safety.

Prosecutors called Frein a terrorist and said he ambushed the troopers in hopes of starting a revolution. Frein told investigators he chose the barracks in rural Pike County, about 30 miles south of the New York border, because of the desolate, mountain landscape surrounding it.

J.J. Abbot, a Wolf spokesperson, told the Associated Press although Frein’s crime is heinous, the moratorium stands and “is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row.”

“Governor Wolf believes Eric Frein is a monster who targeted State Police members and that justice has been served by a jury of his peers,” he said Thursday.

The task force at the center of Wolf’s temporary reprieve decision began working in 2012 with a deadline for a report the following year. So far, no report has been completed.

Frein’s attorneys promised Thursday to appeal the case.

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