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Poplawski Trial: Jurors Vote for Death Instead of Life Without Parole

After deliberating for about two hours, a Dauphin County jury rejects life-without-parole option for convicted killer of three police officers.

After deliberating for about two hours, a jury tonight sentenced convicted killer Richard Poplawski to die for the slayings of three Pittsburgh Police officers, according to KDKA-TV and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The jurors selected from Dauphin County, began their deliberations about 4:15 p.m. after listening to defense witness testimony witnesses aimed at persuading them to spare Poplawski's life. The jury announced its decision shortly before 7 p.m., according to the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

On Saturday night, the jury convicted Poplawski, 24, of 28 charges, including three counts of first-degree murder, in the ambush slayings of Officers Paul Sciullo II, Stephen Mayhle and Eric G. Kelly on April 4, 2009, during a gun battle at his home in Stanton Heights. The officers were shot to death, and two others were hurt when they responded to a domestic argument between Poplawski and his mother, Margaret.

Earlier in the day, jurors heard testimony from Poplawski's father, grandmother and others about his troubled upbringing, which Poplawski's attorney,William Brennan, described as "obscene," according to the Post-Gazette. Defense witnesses said Poplawski's grandfather was abusive and his father left home and his son after repeated conflicts with Poplawski's mother, according to the newspaper and KDKA-TV.

Deputy District Attorney Mark Tranquilli, however, argued that Poplawski is intelligent and knows the difference between right from wrong, according to KDKA-TV. He told the jury that spending life in prison would not punish Poplawski enough for taking the officers' lives and taking them from their loved ones, according to the Post-Gazette.

The jury could have voted to sentence Poplawski to life without parole. Tonight's verdict concludes a trial that began June 20 before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.

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