MILFORD, Pa. — Eric Frein, who killed a state trooper and wounded another in a 2014 ambush that set off one of the largest manhunts in the nation's history, remained silent and showed no reaction as he was sent to death row Thursday afternoon.
"It is the hope of this court that the story of Eric Frein ends today," Pike County Judge Gregory H. Chelak said as he imposed the jury's verdict.
The hearing was largely a formality. A jury from Chester County concluded late Wednesday that Frein should be executed for killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass in the ambush at the state police barracks in Blooming Grove.
Chelak imposed an additional sentence of up to 194 years in state prison for other charges against Frein, including terrorism and attempted murder.
The three-year saga began with the sniper-style attack, which led to the manhunt that paralyzed parts of Pike and Monroe Counties, drawing more than 1,000 law enforcement officers to search for Frein in the Poconos.
But Frein is unlikely to be executed in the next few years – if ever.
His lawyers have vowed to appeal, and he will receive an automatic stay as a death-row inmate. Pennsylvania has not carried out an execution since 1999, and Gov. Wolf placed a moratorium on executions in 2015.
Rows of uniformed troopers stood at the back of the courtroom Thursday as Frein was led in and out. He showed no visible reaction and declined to speak.
Dickson's widow, Tiffany, who brought the couple's two young sons to court Thursday, played a photo slideshow of their lives together as music played, including the song "The Prayer" – her wedding song.
"My heart bleeds for his wife, Tiffany, and his two young sons, who will, unfortunately, because of the actions of the defendant, never get to grow up with their father," State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker told the judge. "That's troubling to me."
The boys sat with their mother and Maj. George Bivens, who led the manhunt.
Most of the jurors, who were sequestered during the trial, stayed in town to attend the sentencing. Before the hearing began, they toured the small town with court staff and took photos. They declined interviews, telling reporters that they had decided as a group not to speak out about the case.
Before the proceeding, Douglass greeted and hugged the jurors in the back of the courtroom. He stood with his arm around one, chatting and smiling.
The jury's verdict, Chelak said, "spoke loudly and clearly."
Standing on the steps of the courthouse with Douglass and members of his and Dickson's families, District Attorney Ray Tonkin said the jury had delivered full justice.