Frein sentence, sadly, won’t bring closure

Killer Eric Frein’s sentence of death by lethal injection is the punishment he deserves. Actually, a death sentence by any means would be appropriate.

Frein killed one Pennsylvania state trooper and left another permanently disabled during a nighttime ambush Sept. 12, 2014, at the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania.

A jury convicted him of capital murder on April 19.

Unfortunately, it will be years, if not decades, before his sentence actually is meted out. There’s also the real question of whether it ever will be.

As an article in Friday’s Mirror reported, Pennsylvania hasn’t carried out an execution since 1999, and there only have been three since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976.

Moreover, Gov. Tom Wolf has imposed a moratorium on executions while a state Senate task force reviews the commonwealth’s death penalty.

When that review will be completed — and a decision handed down — is anyone’s guess.

State residents deserve a report on how far the review has proceeded, or about whether the review process is in limbo for whatever reason.

Regardless, during what is certain to be the lengthy appeals process to which Frein is entitled, there can at least be satisfaction that this man, who has been described as a monster, isn’t going to be treated to a country club existence.

As a “resident” of Pennsylvania’s death row, his future means being locked in a cell, in solitary confinement, for 23 hours a day.

He’ll have plenty of time to ponder the stupidity of his notion that his ambush on the police barracks would spark an uprising against the government.

He also should use some of the time to reflect on his cowardice in allowing his defense, in an attempt to spare him from a death sentence, to blame his action on his father and a dysfunctional family.

In fact, he should have been man enough to plead guilty and accept the consequences. He left behind plenty of evidence of his identity and guilt in relatively close proximity to the barracks.

Frein is another example of someone “brave” in taking someone else’s life but anything but brave when his own life is at stake.

What also must be acknowledged is the possibility that Frein still might be eluding law enforcement if he had planned a better getaway.

But fortunately, early on, police knew who they were seeking and had evidence indicating that he was on foot, not in a vehicle.

Frein’s formal sentencing brought closure to the court proceedings dealing with his fate, but the death sentence didn’t bring closure to the sorrow and pain that he inflicted.

It didn’t bring closure to the fact that Cpl. Bryon Dickson’s two young sons never again will have their father with them. It didn’t bring closure to the physical challenges with which Trooper Alex Douglass will be forced to deal for the rest of his life.

It didn’t bring closure to the anguish that will continue to live with his parents.

For now, Eric Frein is where he should be, but the “system” he so much abhorred continues to be much more generous toward him than is warranted.

That fact is a tragedy in itself.


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