Diary

Eric Frein will die in prison, but it won't be by execution

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Jury chooses death sentence for convicted murderer Eric Frein

by Laura McCrystal, Staff Writer | @LMcCrystal | [email protected] | Updated: April 26, 2017 — 10:50 PM EDT

MILFORD, Pa. – A jury Wednesday ordered the death penalty for Eric Frein, who gunned down two state troopers outside their Pike County barracks in 2014 and then eluded more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers until he was captured in the Poconos after 48 days.

As the verdict was read just before 10 p.m. in a packed courtroom, sighs of relief and a shout of “yes” were heard from the troopers and the victims’ family members present.

Frein showed little reaction as the verdict was read after nearly five hours of deliberation.

The decision marked the end of Frein’s four-week trial, which offered new information about the man who spent the fall of 2014 on the FBI’s most-wanted list for killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass.

Some of the testimony recounted the deadly sniper attack and manhunt for Frein that gripped the Northeastern United States and made international news.

There’s more at the original.

Let’s be honest here: even though Mr Frein was sentenced to death, the odds are very much against him actually being executed. Since the reinstatement of capital punishment in the Keystone State, 408 people have been sentenced to death. Of those 408:

  • 181 are currently on death row;
  • 169 had their sentences reduce to life imprisonment;
  • 33 died of other causes while on death row;
  • 16 had their sentences reduced to less than life imprisonment;
  • 6 were exonerated; and
  • 3 were executed, all three of whom voluntarily dropped their appeals.

On February 13, 2015, shortly after taking office, Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) announced a moratorium on all executions in Pennsylvania. The immediate ‘beneficiary’ was convicted murderer Terrance Williams, who was scheduled to be executed on March 4, 2015, but the Commonwealth did not have the lethal drugs used in executions on hand. The Governor’s pardon power is limited: he may grant clemency only upon a favorable recommendation by the Board of Pardons.

Governor Wolf appears to be opposed to capital punishment, but his predecessor, Governor Tom Corbett (R-PA) was not; Governor Corbett signed 48 death warrants during his term, but not one condemned man was actually executed during his four years in office. No one has been executed against his will in the Keystone State since the re-establishment of the death penalty!

It didn’t matter whether the governor supported or opposed capital punishment, and it didn’t matter whether the legislature was controlled by Republicans or Democrats: not one single execution occurred, unless the condemned man volunteered for it by dropping his appeals.

And Pennsylvania’s prosecutors know this, know it very well. They know that winning a capital sentence doesn’t mean that a killer will be executed; they just know that seeking the death penalty shows that they are ‘tough on crime.’ It’s an election issue for them, and nothing more.

So, what did prosecutors achieve in the Frein case? The conviction was a foregone conclusion, and his attorneys never even attempted to argue that Mr Frein wasn’t the killer. Rather, they tried to show what a terrible home life he had, “an abusive, alcoholic father who railed against police and the government, and fabricated stories about being a war hero,” to try and spare him from a capital sentence. Had he been sentenced to life imprisonment, that’s it, we’d never hear about him again. Since he was sentenced to death, he’ll be incarcerated much more expensively, on death row rather than general population, have multiple appeals, all paid for by the taxpayers, and he still will never be executed.

The death penalty is nothing but a waste of money.