Accused Trooper Killer Eric Frein Ordered to Stand Trial

The survivalist accused of shooting two Pennsylvania state troopers, killing one, in an ambush attack outside a barracks last year was ordered Monday to stand trial.

Eric Frein, 31, of Canadensis, Pennsylvania, looked like a new man -- wearing glasses, freshly shaved and unbloodied -- when he arrived for a preliminary hearing at the Pike County Courthouse just before 8 a.m. Monday flanked by state police.

Inside the courtroom, Frein sat at the defense table across from the widow of the man he's accused of killing, state police Cpl. Bryon Dickson II.

The woman stared at her husband's accused killer as prosecutors played surveillance video from the Blooming Grove Barracks on Sept. 12, the night Frein is accused of ambushing and killing Dickson and wounding Trooper Alex T. Douglass.

In the video, Cpl. Dickson can be seen leaving the barracks lobby after his shift around 11 p.m. Trooper Douglass can be seen making his way towards the building at the same time, when shots ring out -- striking both men. Douglass was able to crawl into the lobby while fellow troopers blocked the door with an SUV and pulled Dickson inside.

Dickson was pronounced dead in the hallway just off of the lobby moments later, the Pike County Coroner testified Monday.

Others also took the stand, and more new evidence was presented before the court day ended just before 3 p.m.

Frein has been held at the Pike County Correctional Facility since his Oct. 30 capture in an abandoned airport hangar following a 48-day manhunt through Blooming Grove, Canadensis and Swiftwater that cost $11 million.

Investigators testified Monday that end of that manhunt, they found the murder weapon along with a journal in which Frein described shooting the troopers. A trooper testified Monday that bullets from the shooting scene were fired from Frein's rifle, which was recovered at the hangar.

Frein, who was shackled by his hands and feet, sat quiet and still throughout the day in a cavernous courtroom packed with media and other spectators. At one point, he wrote a note and whispered into an attorney's ear.

Authorities say Frein confessed to what he described as an assassination designed to "wake people up." They say he also wrote a letter to his parents — the text of which was read in court Monday — calling for revolution to "get us back the liberties we once had."

"I do not have a death wish but I know the odds. I tried my best to do this thing without getting identified, but if you are reading this then I was not successful," said the letter, found on a computer storage drive that prosecutors say Frein had with him while he was on the run.

After the hearing, a defense lawyer, Bill Ruzzo, said his primary goal is to save Frein's life. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

"It's a battle," said another defense attorney, Michael Weinstein, adding that Frein "understands his circumstances." 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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