Jurors watch police interview of barracks ambush suspect
MILFORD, Pa. (AP) — A man charged in the fatal ambush of a Pennsylvania 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 on Tuesday.
Prosecutors showed the video that police recorded on Oct. 30, 2014, hours after Eric Matthew Frein was captured after spending 48 days on the run in the Pocono Mountains.
“All I can say is I’m sorry,” Frein, now 33, 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 could face a death sentence if he’s convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.
The video shows two state police interrogators pressing Frein for answers on why he targeted two troopers whom he said he did not know.
“31. Still living with my parents. No prospect for any sort of future … drive a truck or something,” he told them.
Frein said he took two Adderall pills — a stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder — on the day of the shooting, then took up his 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. He 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.
Jurors broke for lunch on Tuesday about two-thirds of the way through the video. In court papers, police have said Frein acknowledged Dickson’s slaying was an “assassination” and that he did it to change government and “wake people up.”
Defense attorneys had tried to suppress the three-hour video, arguing police had violated his right to remain silent, but a judge overruled them and said the jurors could see it. Frein’s 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 his parents and Frein himself.
“You, sir, are the champion of hide and seek,” Mulvey told him.
Frein appeared to become emotional at times as Cpl. Benjamin Clark asked him to give “closure” to Dickson’s widow and two young sons.
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 hard to make out. The judge acknowledged the sound problems and told jurors to do the best they could with it.