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Frein Ordered To Stand Trial For Ambush On State Troopers

MILFORD, Pa. (AP) — A judge has ordered a self-taught survivalist to stand trial on charges he fatally shot a Pennsylvania state trooper and wounded another during a barracks ambush.

Monday's ruling came after a daylong preliminary hearing for Eric Frien.

Pike County prosecutors rested their case after presenting several witnesses and surveillance video of the attack.

One trooper testified that bullets from the shooting were fired from a gun recovered at the site where marshals arrested Frein after a 48-day manhunt.

The defense for 31-year-old Frein called no witnesses and offered no evidence.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Frein is accused of fatally shooting Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounding Trooper Alex Douglass Sept. 12 outside their state police station in Blooming Grove.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The ambush on a northeastern Pennsylvania state police barracks played out Monday on a courtroom screen: a mortally wounded trooper crumbling to the ground; a bullet striking a comrade kneeling by his side; and the comrade, his legs immobilized by the gunfire, crawling into the lobby on his stomach.

Prosecutors played surveillance video of the Sept. 12 attack on the Blooming Grove barracks and its aftermath at a preliminary hearing for Eric Frein, the survivalist suspect who led police on a 48-day manhunt through the Pocono woods.

Frein, 31, has been charged with killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass outside the rural barracks.

The video played in court Monday showed a trooper dragging Douglass into a secure part of the barracks and three troopers bringing Dickson inside.

Frein was captured Oct. 30 at an abandoned airplane hangar in the Pocono Mountains.

A Pennsylvania district judge must decide whether there are sufficient grounds to send the case against Frein to county court.

Frein, who was shackled by his hands and feet, sat quiet and still through the morning session in a cavernous courtroom packed with media and other spectators.

At one point, he wrote a note and whispered into his attorney's ear.

Authorities say Frein confessed to what he described as an assassination designed to "wake people up" and result in a change in government. Dickson was killed and Douglass was wounded.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Frein was identified as a suspect shortly after the shootings when a passer-by found his vehicle partially submerged in a small pond near the state police station.

The manhunt, with drew a large police force to the rural area, frightened residents as there were numerous reported sightings of Frein, an expert marksman. A team of federal marshals performing a systematic search stumbled across him about 30 miles from the scene of the shooting and were able to arrest him.

Trooper Sean Doran, an evidence technician, testified that he found Frein's checkbook and two explosive devices in a backpack at a wooded campsite near Canadensis. Troopers also found three crumpled, wet pieces of notebook paper in a garbage bag at the campsite that authorities say bore Frein's handwriting and described the ambush in detail.

"Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it," one entry said. "He was still and quiet."

John Schaaf, a deputy with the US Marshals Service, described how he and two other deputies found Frein at an abandoned airfield on Oct. 30 and took him into custody. He said another marshal first spotted Frein, ordered him to put his hands up, and asked him his name.

Frein got onto his knees and told them who he was. Schaaf said he handcuffed Frein and searched him, finding a pocketknife but no other weapons. He said he also spotted a green nylon cord attached to "different metal devices."

"I immediately thought he had explosives on him," Schaaf said. But it turned out to be Frein's suspenders.

He said Frein said, "Can I tell you where the guns are in the hangar?" adding, "I don't want a kid to find the guns." He said that two rifles were upstairs in the hangar and a loaded pistol was downstairs.

Frein was shackled with Dickson's handcuffs and driven to the police station in Dickson's squad car.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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