Lawyers for the man charged in an ambush outside a Pennsylvania State Police barracks that killed one trooper and seriously wounded another have withdrawn their request to have his trial moved, but said Monday they plan to refile it at a later date.
Eric Frein is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12. He led authorities on a 48-day manhunt before U.S. marshals captured him outside an abandoned airplane hangar.
His attorneys had asked a judge to move the case from Pike County because District Attorney Ray Tonkin refers to Frein as a “murderer” in a campaign mailer, but withdrew the request on Friday.
The campaign issue will be raised again as part of a broader change of venue request that will also cite the intensive news coverage of the case, Frein’s attorney, Michael Weinstein, said Monday. Weinstein is still asking the judge to block Tonkin from mentioning Frein or using his image in campaign materials.
Tonkin said Weinstein’s objections are politically motivated, pointing out the defense lawyer’s yard has a sign for his primary opponent, Kelly Gaughan.
“The filing of the motion has now been exposed as both a legal and political stunt used in an attempt to impact my re-election. These tactics clearly show my opponent’s campaign is struggling,” Tonkin, a Republican, said in a statement Monday.
Weinstein said he’s only acting in his client’s best interest. He said the Gaughan campaign had asked his wife to put a sign in their yard.
“It’s not my intention to get in the middle of their political contest,” said Weinstein, a Democrat and former district attorney, adding he’s concerned about “the poisoning of the jury pool.”
“I could care less about his politics,” he said. “My goal is not to get a person elected to office. My goal is to defend and represent a client. That’s all I’m doing.”
One side of Tonkin’s campaign mailer has photos of Tonkin and Frein, with an arrow pointing to Tonkin that says, “we can trust this man,” and one pointing to Frein that says, “to prosecute this man.” It says Tonkin is “the only candidate who has ever prosecuted a murderer.” Frein’s photo depicts him in prison garb shortly after his Oct. 30 arrest on charges he shot to death Cpl. Bryon Dickson and wounded Trooper Alex Douglass.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.