Jurors watch police interview with barracks ambush suspect
MILFORD, Pa. (AP) — A survivalist charged in a fatal ambush at a state police barracks told authorities on the night of his capture, “I did this. No one else did,” according to a videotaped interview played for jurors at his capital murder trial on Tuesday.
Prosecutors showed the video that police recorded on Oct. 30, 2014, hours after Eric Frein was captured, ending 48 days on the run in the Pocono Mountains.
“All I can say is I’m sorry,” Frein, sobbing at times, told police investigators in an interview room at the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors say Frein hid in the woods across the street from the barracks and opened fire during a late-night shift change, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson II and critically wounding Trooper Alex Douglass.
Frein, who’s 33, faces charges including murder of a law enforcement officer and terrorism. He could face a death sentence if he’s convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.
The video showed two state police interrogators repeatedly pressing Frein for answers on why he targeted two troopers he said he didn’t know. He was reluctant to answer, finally agreeing with the investigators’ statements that he did it to “wake people up” and that he wanted to make a change in government, according to the video.
“There’s nobody to vote for,” he said.
Earlier, the college dropout seemed to suggest he had been despondent over his life.
“Thirty-one. Still living with my parents. No prospect for any sort of future … drive a truck or something,” he told them.
Frein said he planned the ambush using Google Earth, choosing the Blooming Grove barracks because the heavily forested area provided ample cover.
He said he took two Adderall pills, a stimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, on the day of the shooting, then got into position in the woods about an hour before.
Authorities say Frein shot Dickson as he was leaving the barracks at the end of his shift, then shot Douglass, who was just arriving and had bent over to tend to his fallen colleague.
Frein said he could hear Douglass yelling in pain after the first shot slammed into his pelvis. Frein agreed with Trooper Michael Mulvey when Mulvey suggested that Frein then shot Douglass a second time to “put him out of his misery.”
“That sounds horrible,” Frein said.
Defense attorneys had tried to suppress the nearly 3 1/2 hour video, arguing police had violated his right to remain silent, but a judge overruled them and said the jurors could see it. His lawyers are appealing that ruling to a higher court.
The police interviewers quickly struck up a rapport with Frein, who had been at the top of the FBI’s most-wanted list, giving him cigarettes and coffee and complimenting him and his parents as he sat in a chair, shackled to the floor, in a corner of the interview room.
“You, sir, are the champion of hide and seek,” Mulvey told him.
Cpl. Benjamin Clark asked Frein to give “closure” to Dickson’s widow and two young sons by providing an explanation for the attack. He and Mulvey asked Frein dozens of times why he did it. But Frein either couldn’t or wouldn’t answer the question directly.
Outside court, his attorneys said the video showed he was sorry.
“I think there is legitimate remorse here,” attorney Michael Weinstein said.
Static was laced throughout the video’s audio track, often making it impossible to hear what was being said. And Frein primarily spoke in a soft voice that could be difficult to make out. The judge acknowledged the sound problems and told jurors to do the best they could with it.
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