Frein's parents not entitled to return of guns, judge rules

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Apr. 3—The parents of convicted cop killer Eric Matthew Frein are not entitled regain dozens of firearms seized from their home as part of the investigation into their son's crimes, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion said Eugene and Debra Frein have no right to the weapons because they were seized pursuant to a valid search warrant. Authorities continue to hold them in the event Eric Frein, who continues to appeal his case, wins a new trial.

Eric Frein was convicted in 2017 in Pike County Court of first-degree murder and other charges and sentenced to death for the Sept. 12, 2014, sniper attack outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks that killed Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II of Dunmore and seriously wounded Trooper Alex T. Douglass of Olyphant.

Eugene and Debra Frein filed suit in June against Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin and Pennsylvania State Police, alleging authorities are violating their constitutional rights for refusing to return 19 pistols, 25 rifles, two shotguns and several other items now that the criminal case against their son has concluded.

The lawsuit, filed by Scranton attorney Curt Parkins, alleged several violations of the Freins' constitutional rights, including that the seizure of the weapons amounted to an unlawful taking of their property and violated their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Mannion rejected the arguments. In his ruling, the judge said authorities had legal authority to seize the weapons because they were potential evidence in the criminal case. Although Frein has exhausted appeals in state court, he continues to appeal his case in the federal court system.

Mannion said the seizure also does not violate the Freins' right to bear arms. While the couple cannot regain the weapons that were seized, they are free to purchase other firearms.

Contact the writer:

tbesecker@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9137

@tmbeseckerTT

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