Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"May God have mercy on your soul," Judge Manning told Richard Poplawski.



Richard Poplawski should die by lethal injection for murdering three Pittsburgh police officers, a jury ruled on Tuesday, capping an eight-day trial and a two-year ordeal for the officers' families and the police department. "We take no comfort in it," said city police Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson. "It cannot assuage the pain and discomfort it has caused us and the families of the three slain officers. I'm sure the three officers are resting in peace today. They too can finally find some justice." Poplawski, 24, looked at the jury but showed no emotion as the foreman announced the three death sentences for the April 4, 2009, shootings of Officers Eric G. Kelly, Stephen J. Mayhle and Paul J. Sciullo II, who responded to a 911 call about a domestic disturbance at his Stanton Heights home. The jury of seven men and five women -- brought in from Dauphin County because of pretrial publicity -- convicted Poplawski on Saturday of 28 charges, including three counts of first-degree murder. Many jurors cried during the trial, but none was in tears as the death sentence was read. They deliberated fewer than two hours before informing the judge they had reached a decision.Richard Poplawski should die by lethal injection for murdering three Pittsburgh police officers, a jury ruled on Tuesday, capping an eight-day trial and a two-year ordeal for the officers' families and the police department. "We take no comfort in it," said city police Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson. "It cannot assuage the pain and discomfort it has caused us and the families of the three slain officers. I'm sure the three officers are resting in peace today. They too can finally find some justice." Poplawski, 24, looked at the jury but showed no emotion as the foreman announced the three death sentences for the April 4, 2009, shootings of Officers Eric G. Kelly, Stephen J. Mayhle and Paul J. Sciullo II, who responded to a 911 call about a domestic disturbance at his Stanton Heights home. The jury of seven men and five women -- brought in from Dauphin County because of pretrial publicity -- convicted Poplawski on Saturday of 28 charges, including three counts of first-degree murder. Many jurors cried during the trial, but none was in tears as the death sentence was read. They deliberated fewer than two hours before informing the judge they had reached a decision. Poplawski spoke for just the second time during the trial when Manning informed him he had a right to make a statement during sentencing. "I'd like to apologize ... " Poplawski said before Brennan and fellow defense attorney Lisa Middleman hushed him. If he gave a statement, Tranquilli would have been able to cross-examine him, Manning explained. The abbreviated apology, which jurors did not hear, followed hours of testimony from Poplawski relatives and former teachers who said he grew up in an abusive home, the son of an unloving, alcoholic mother and a father who abandoned him. They portrayed Poplawski as a bright boy with above-average intellect -- his IQ is 130-140 -- who loved kittens and helped kids who weren't as smart as he with their schoolwork. "He was never in my office. He was never a problem," said Sister Mary John Cock, principal of Immaculate Conception school in Bloomfield, where Poplawski was a student for six years. Poplawski's father and namesake testified that he left his wife when his son was about 3 because of a rocky relationship. The turning point came after Margaret stabbed him during two domestic battles, he said. Manning said he will sentence Poplawski on the remaining charges on Sept. 6. The judge repeated the jury's death sentence and told him "he shall be put to death by lethal injection" upon a warrant signed by the governor. - Bobby Kerlik

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