Hearing delayed in police ambush case after judge bars media

MILFORD, Pa. (AP) — A judge postponed a hearing Tuesday for a man charged with ambushing two troopers outside a Pennsylvania State Police barracks after reporters objected to being excluded from part of it.

Eric Frein, 32, is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove barracks in 2014, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and seriously wounding Trooper Alex Douglass. The anti-government survivalist led police on a 48-day manhunt before U.S. marshals captured him in an abandoned airplane hanger.

Tuesday’s hearing centered on the admissibility of Frein’s videotaped statement to police after his arrest. Frein told police that Dickson’s slaying was an “assassination” and that he ambushed the troopers to “wake people up,” according to court documents filed earlier in the case.

His attorneys argue his statement should be suppressed because police did not inform Frein his parents had hired a lawyer to represent him.

Citing heavy pretrial publicity, a Pike County judge tried closing that part of the hearing to the public, then postponed it until Friday after a TV station formally objected. Judge Gregory Chelak said he will hear arguments Thursday on whether the suppression hearing should be held in open court instead.

Earlier Tuesday, Frein’s attorneys argued that Chelak should rule Pennsylvania’s death penalty unconstitutional. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Frein.