Internal Investigation Adds Wrinkle to Eric Frein Case

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MILFORD -- There is a new twist in the case against accused cop killer Eric Frein.

Frein has yet to go to trial on charges of murdering one state trooper and badly injuring another last year in Pike County. But now prosecutors from two counties are at odds over an internal affairs investigation report involving a potential witness and whether Frein's defense attorneys should be allowed to see the report from that investigation before the trial.

A judge in Pike County has to decide if Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola overstepped his boundaries or if that internal affairs investigation by state police should be kept under wraps.

The Pike County district attorney says information in the report needs to be shown to Frein's defense attorneys or Frein could have a reason to appeal any conviction.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys arrived at the Pike County Courthouse in Milford Tuesday to meet with a judge over those two motions. The contents of the motion from Jarbola were never made public. The other motion is a 19-page motion filed in response from Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin.

Tonkin's motion concerns a state police internal affairs investigation that, according to Tonkin, started shortly after last year's deadly ambush at the Pennsylvania State Police Blooming Grove barracks.

Tonkin says information within that internal affairs report must be turned over to Eric Frein's defense attorneys because the investigation involves a potential witness or witnesses in the death-penalty case.

Even though attorneys in this case would not utter a peep about what was said in the hour-and-a-half-long meeting with the judge, there's a lot said in the motion made last week by Tonkin.

First, Tonkin claims his counterpart in Lackawanna County is interfering with the Frein case by trying to prevent the release of that internal affairs report to the defense. And according to Tonkin's motion, The Lackawanna County D.A. believes if any information involving the internal affairs report is released, it could look bad for state police.

"In no way was I trying to prevent info from being turned over to the defense.  It was just not the case, it was the opposite. We were 100 percent in favor of turning over the information," Jarbola said.

Court papers indicate that witness--a state trooper--could face charges for alleged crimes that were uncovered during the investigation into the attack at the Blooming Grove barracks. The alleged crimes took place between the summer of 2013 and spring 2014--before the attack--and that they span both Pike and Lackawanna Counties.

Former prosecutor Ernie Preate said he was shocked to hear of this latest development in the high-profile case against Frein.

"It's one or more members of the Pennsylvania State Police who might be witnesses in the Frein case, so that's a really significant issue here," Preate said.

Preate said it's extremely rare for a district attorney from outside the county where a case is being tried to intervene.

There is no indication if or when the judge in Pike County may decide on the motions--one to seal and protect the state police internal affairs report and the other to ensure it's available to Frein's defense attorneys.

Update 9/30/15: On Wednesday, both prosecutors spoke to Newswatch 16 about the dispute.

7 comments

  • Kenneth Hubeny

    Something stunk about this whole case from the beginning. He was supposed to be such a well trained survivalist, prepper and military guy. Yet he leaves a car stranded with spent shells and his Identification at the site. None of this adds up. This is just the tip of it.

  • Paul Clark

    I just don’t understand why the Lacawanna DA is so interested in suppressing evidence in a case that isn’t even his. Also, when the persecution tries to suppress evidence it gives me the impression that they have something to hide and are trying to screw the defendant because the evidence would damage the prosecutions case against them. If evidence is relevant to a case then suppressing it shouldn’t even be an option for either party. The purpose of a trial should be to get the most accurate account of events and details as possible so a just verdict can be made. Suppressing relevant evidence doesn’t contribute anything positive to a trial.

    • CassDeCourcy

      Do you want to live in a country where ignorant cretins can just decide on their own whim that you don’t deserve a trial? How about if one of your family members was falsely accused of something, and because of dishonest media reporting, cretins like yourself were able to vote to not even give your family member a trial. Not a world I would want to live in personally. You should learn some basic critical thinking skills.

    • Paul Clark

      Because we as Americans are entitled to due process and a fair trial. I will gladly defend Eric Frein’s rights as I wish mine to be defended. Eric Frein is innocent until proven guilty and should be treated humanly while incarcerated. Unfortunately many Americans get short changed by our judicial system and are wrongfully accused because of individuals with your ideology. No, mistakes should ever be made when deciding the fate of another individuals life even if they have been accused of murder. I don’t understand what the Lacawanna Co. DA has to do with this case anyway. Isn’t it a Pike Co. issue?

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