Death Warrant Signed for Local Killer of State Trooper in 2014 Ambush
HARRISBURG (MAY 11 2020) – Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, today, signed a Notice of Execution setting June 22, 2020, for the execution of the 37-year old Canadensis man convicted in the 2014 ambush murder of Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Bryon Dickson II at the northeast Pennsylvania Blooming Grove barracks. Trooper Alex Douglass was also severely wounded in the same attack.
The convicted killer unsuccessfully appealed his conviction and death sentence to Pennsylvania’s Superior Court and Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 declined to hear his appeal of those decisions. By law, the state must seek an execution warrant within 90 days of that decision.
The law provides that when the governor does not sign a warrant of execution within the specified time period, the secretary of corrections has 30 days within which to issue a notice of execution.
Last month, an assistant federal public defender, asked a judge to appoint the department’s capital unit to represent the prisoner in a future federal appeal that will be filed. Now that an execution warrant has been filed, the federal petition for an appointed appellate attorney can move forward. All death penalty defendants also are entitled to challenge the constitutionality of their convictions and sentences in federal court after their state appeals have been exhausted and an execution date set. The appointment will authorize an attorney to file that appeal.
The federal courts typically stay the execution pending appeal. If it does not, Governor Wolf has said he would do so in this case. The General Assembly has yet to address the inadequacies in the death penalty system as detailed in the Joint State Government Commission report issued in 2018. No executions will be carried out, because a death penalty moratorium Gov. Tom Wolf enacted in 2015 remains in effect. The moratorium does not halt death warrants from being issued, however. The Boro* does not publish the name or photograph of domestic terrorists.