Pa. inmate set to die for ambush, killing of state police corporal

Eric Matthew Frein's execution date has been set for June 22, but it is unclear if it will actually be carried out

Frank Wilkes Lesnefsky

HARRISBURG, Pa. — An execution date has been set for convicted cop killer Eric Matthew Frein, but the execution is unlikely to occur next month as scheduled.

State Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel set June 22 as the day of Frein’s execution. However, Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on executions in February 2015, and Frein’s attorneys intend to seek a stay of execution.

State police Cpl. Bryon Dickson was ambushed and murdered in 2014. His killer has been scheduled for execution.
State police Cpl. Bryon Dickson was ambushed and murdered in 2014. His killer has been scheduled for execution. (Photo/ODMP)

Frein, 37, has been on death row since his conviction in 2017 for the murder of state police Cpl. Bryon Dickson and the attempted murder of Trooper Alex Douglass.

Frein ambushed the troopers outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12, 2014. He managed to elude police for weeks before he was captured 48 days later outside an abandoned airport hangar in Pocono Twp.

A jury found Frein guilty of first-degree murder and other charges in April 2017, and a judge sentenced him to death soon after.

The state Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence last year; the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal earlier this year.

If the governor does not sign an execution warrant in a certain time period, the secretary of corrections has 30 days to issue a notice of execution, according to the department.

David Kennedy, president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, called on the governor to sign Frein’s warrant of execution.

“There is no question in anyone’s mind that he committed these horrific crimes. One trooper’s children are growing up without their father, and another is living with serious injuries for the rest of his life,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Gov. Tom Wolf should sign this coward’s death warrant and end his life.”

Frein’s attorneys will seek to stay the execution while he goes through the appeals process, said Leane Renee, chief of the Capital Habeas Unit at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

In March, a federal judge granted Frein’s request to appoint the federal public defender’s office’s capital punishment unit to file federal appeals of his death sentence.

Wolf issues temporary reprieves if a warrant reaches his desk without further appeals, according to the Department of Corrections.

“We are not yet at that point in this case,” according to a department news release.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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