April 5, 2017

Frein trial begins with minimal fanfare

Mostly local media in town for the trial

MILFORD – Opening statements consumed the first morning of the Eric Frein trial in Pike County Court this morning. 

Assistant District Attorney Bruce DeSarro spent an hour and a half very methodically explaining the case and charges against Frein. There are 12 charges against Frein ranging from murder to terrorism. He explained each charge to the jurors and how the prosecution would prove each charge. DeSarro asked for full justice for Dickson and Douglass.

Frein’s lead attorney, Micheal Weinstein, told the jurors to hold the Commonwealth to proof of evidence and that his client would not testify on his behalf. 

The first witness on the stand, Tuesday afternoon, was a dispatcher who at described hearing the shots and going outside, finding the two wounded troopers.  Cpl. Bryon Dickson died from his wound.  Trooper Alex Douglass was critically wounded but survived. 

Nicole Palmer, who was just on duty minutes before Dickson was shot, told the jurors that she was answering a call and thought she heard a shot. She put the caller on hold to go check the barracks lobby and saw Dickson on the ground. During sometimes emotional testimony, she explained what she tried to do and did in the minutes after the shooting.

The second witness was retired Corporal Warren Grahber. He explained his duties as a patrol unit supervisor and overseer of communications for the barracks. District Attorney Ray Tonkin spent most of the afternoon having Grabher explain what was on the three tapes of the barracks surveillance cameras. Dickson could be seen on the sidewalk outside the lobby door having been shot twice. Douglass was shown crawling into the lobby after he had been shot trying to help Dickson. Other troopers were shown coming to the aide of both men.

Ambulances were shown arriving at the side of the barracks to get both men

Security was tight around the courthouse as Frein arrived in a convoy of state police SUVs and was quickly transferred into court behind a black security tarp put in place for the trial. 

There did not appear to be high interest our curiosity about the trial, even on opening day.  The courtroom was not full.  Family members and reporters were given the first two rows of seats.  About 25 state troopers and other law enforcement were in the courtroom, but spectators did not turn out in big numbers.

The trial is expected to last at least three to four weeks. 

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