Friends and Family of Slain Trooper Testify

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MILFORD -- Family and friends of Corporal Bryon Dickson took the stand in Pike County court as the prosecution continues to seek the death penalty in the case against cop killer Eric Frein.

The defense called an expert on prison life as its first witness during the penalty phase Friday afternoon.

He spoke about how prisoners cope with being incarcerated for life, even speaking to the interview he had with Frein who told him, "self-control is easy inside prison."

Dr. Robert Johnson traveled to Pike County from American University in Washington DC. The expert on prison life testified for the defense in the penalty phase at the trial of Eric Frein.

Dr. Johnson talked about how prisoners sentenced to life adapt to it and avoid trouble because it's all they have left.

He told jurors that during an interview, Frein told him self-control is easy inside prison.

Dr. Johnson also noted a few infractions Frein has had in jail, including urinating outside and lying. He called both incidents nonviolent.

"Lifers are not as dangerous as people think. They tend to settle into life and try to get through the day and just do their own time," said Dr. Johnson.

The defense has not ruled out calling Frein to the stand. When asked, attorney Bill Ruzzo says it is ultimately up to Frein himself. He says now it's their turn to convince jurors not to sentence Frein to death.

"For first-degree murder, the penalty is life in prison and that part is over. It's a done deal and we are talking about life or death here and we think the jurors might be satisfied when they heard what life really is."

Testimony became heated during cross-examination with the D.A. questioning the expertise of the witness.

"Well, it's my opinion of the testimony of that expert was internally contradictory and it will be up to the jury to determine whether they believe him."

Several witnesses took the stand Friday morning during day two of the penalty phase.

Cpl. Dickson's mother, Darla Dickson, talked about watching her son turn into a man and about the life he shared with his family.

Behind tears, Darla Dickson told jurors she forgives Eric Frein.

"I do not hate Eric Frein, but it doesn't mean I don't hold him accountable."

Also on the stand was state police Sgt. Derek Felsman. Sgt. Felsman was the one who cuffed Eric Frein with Cpl. Dickson's handcuffs the night Frein was arrested.

Felsman recalled the first time he met Cpl. Dickson and how they quickly became friends.

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Felsman protected the Dickson family during the 48-day manhunt and gave the eulogy at his funeral.

Felsman said, "the Pennsylvania State Police, our commonwealth, nation, and I mean this sincerely, I mean this sincerely, we lost one of the best public servants. His absence is monumental."

Cpl. Dickson's sister Stacy Hinkley also took the stand.

She talked about the Dickson family and the impact the deadly shooting has had on her family.

"When Eric Frein placed those bullets in the chamber, aimed at my brother, and pierced his flesh, he broke the Dickson bond," Hinkley said.

"I wanted the jury to know about Bryon Dickson as a father, a son, a husband, and his honor that he carried forth in his life and the honor to the uniform of the PSP," said Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin.

Earlier this week, the jury found Eric Frein guilty on all counts including first-degree murder. Soon they will decide if Frein should be sentenced to death for his crimes.

Testimony resumes Monday at 9 a.m.


  • Feed Me More

    so he did the crime, but did we ever find out why he did it in the first place? what was the motivation behind the shooting? did a cop push him to do it or was there a relationship destroyed by one of them and was retribution? not saying it was the right thing to do but there is always a reason behind a crime

    • Lloyd Schmucatelli


      How dare you think outside the box?!?!

      I’m surprised your post lasted longer than 15 seconds!!

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