By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press Writer
ELMIRA, N.Y. — The man whose dramatic capture at the edge of a Pennsylvania field ended the largest manhunt in New York history pleaded guilty Wednesday to wounding a state trooper during a traffic stop in June.
(AP File Photo)
Ralph "Bucky" Phillips was also expected to plead guilty Wednesday to shooting two other troopers, one fatally, in August near his boyhood home in rural southwestern New York.
The 44-year-old career criminal pleaded guilty in Chemung County to four counts, including attempted murder, in the June 10 shooting of Trooper Sean Brown. The trooper had approached a 1995 Ford Mustang that Phillips had pulled to the side of the road.
"I'm pleading guilty, freely," Phillips said in a loud, clear voice after impatiently answering the judge's questions about the shooting.
Asked if he intended to kill Brown, Phillips answered, "Yes."
He smiled as he left the courthouse guarded by at least a half-dozen heavily armed officers.
Phillips is to be sentenced Dec. 20. District Attorney John Trice said Phillips could get up to life in prison.
"It was very disturbing to me to watch his mannerisms," State Police Maj. Steven White said. "My perception is that he was indifferent, demonstrated no remorse whatsoever and almost couldn't be bothered with today's proceedings."
Phillips had used an industrial can opener to escape from an Erie County jail near Buffalo on April 2, and the shooting of Brown pushed the search for him into high gear.
Troopers from around the state were enlisted to follow a trail of stolen cars, burglaries and sightings throughout western New York.
Troopers Joseph Longobardo, 32, and Donald Baker Jr., 38, were shot Aug. 31 behind the home of Phillips' ex-girlfriend. Longobardo had his leg amputated and died three days later.
No charges have been filed yet in those shootings, but Phillips is scheduled for a 2 p.m. court appearance in Chautauqua County, where Longobardo and Baker were shot. Law enforcement sources quoted by the Buffalo News on Tuesday said Phillips is expected to plead guilty to murder and attempted murder charges in those shootings.
Authorities finally closed in on Phillips near the New York-Pennsylvania line Sept. 8. He emerged from a field with his hands up, clearly worn down by the long chase.
Phillips also is expected to admit to an escape charge Thursday in Erie County.
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