Cop killer shows his cowardice
Eric Frein exuded cowardice when he used the cover of darkness, trees and vegetation to mask his ambush of two Pennsylvania state troopers in September 2014 in Pike County.
One of the troopers died at the attack scene — outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks — and another was wounded so severely that he has required at least 18 major surgeries since the attack.
Frein subsequently was convicted and currently is on death row, which in Pennsylvania is tantamount to a prison life sentence because of this state’s long-demonstrated anathema toward carrying out executions.
As for a convicted murderer’s available appeals process, it moves more slowly than any snail.
However, that process often revives the cowardice that caused the killer to snuff out the life of another person in the first place.
That’s what Pennsylvania is witnessing now regarding Eric Frein, whose foolhardy thinking was that the attack might spark a revolution.
Frein has decided that, rather than continuing to accept the unpleasant realities of the court sentence meted out to him — a sentence that, so far, hasn’t been nearly as harsh as the sentence that he inflicted on his two victims — he should now be granted a new trial.
Frein’s lawyer argued before the state Supreme Court last week that investigators extracted a confession from Frein after Frein had declined to waive his Miranda right to remain silent.
The lawyer, William Ruzzo, said, “we believe it’s a simple matter, that if Mr. Frein unequivocally asserted his right to silence, then the commonwealth should have scrupulously honored the invocation of that right.”
It’s true that the commonwealth has the responsibility to comply with all rules governing interrogations, but it’s a defendant’s responsibility to continue to remain silent rather than succumb to any further questions that might be asked after having chosen not to waive Miranda.
Frein apparently cracked under those further questions, which, in fact, was his own error or due to his own weakness.
But Frein’s lawyer has raised a reasonable point nonetheless.
In considering Frein’s request, there also are several other points that the high court must consider, including:
n That Frein was not permitted to speak immediately with an attorney that his family had retained on the night he was captured. The lawyer reportedly was kept outside during three hours of questioning.
n That the trial judge allowed too much testimony about the impact of the crime on victims.
n That, despite having been read his Miranda rights, Frein said he wanted to talk about where he had hidden a rifle or rifles in the woods, which Ruzzo said was prompted by Frein’s concern that children might find it or them.
There were indications at the hearing that justices might be considering ruling the interrogation issue as a harmless error when stacked alongside the extensive evidence used to convict Frein.
The task before the justices is important; their decision could end up impacting cases in the future.
But the bottom line is that some killers are cowards when their own lives are at stake or their own circumstances are unpleasant.
Frein is verifying that — loud and clear.