Ex-professor guilty of shooting at Mt. Lebanon police

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"There is justice," said Pat King, mother of Mt. Lebanon police Officer Daniel Rieg, moments after handcuffs were snapped on a former Carnegie Mellon University professor who shot her son.

Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette
Mt. Lebanon police Officer Daniel Rieg turns away from reporters after a guilty verdict in the trial of Edward Constant II, who shot Rieg in May 2002.
Click photo for larger image.

After about six hours of deliberations yesterday, a jury found Edward Constant II, 61, guilty of two counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault in a May 26, 2002, disturbance at his Piper Drive home in Mt. Lebanon.

The jury acquitted Constant of one count of simple assault on his wife, Susan, 48, during a domestic dispute that brought Rieg and Officer Jeffrey Kite to the Constants' home.

After the verdict, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Beemer asked Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman to revoke Constant's bond and jail him.

Despite a plea from Constant's attorney, Paul Boas, that his client has multiple health problems and no prior record and had been free during the trial and reported for every proceeding, Cashman ordered Constant to the Allegheny County Jail.

Sentencing was set for June 24.

Constant appeared to mouth a loving comment to his wife as he was taken from the courtroom. Susan Constant, appearing upset, ran down the stairs, avoiding questions from reporters.

Constant faces a maximum penalty of 60 to 120 years and a $150,000 fine. Beemer said that includes a minimum five- to 10-year mandatory sentence for using a firearm in commission of a felony.

"Five-to-10 is the absolute minimum sentence," Beemer said.

Susan Constant faces a separate trial on charges of reckless endangerment, obstructing the administration of law and hindering the apprehension of her husband.

Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette
Edward Constant II is led out of the courtroom in handcuffs after being convicted of shooting a Mt. Lebanon police officer.
Click photo for larger image.

Jurors declined to comment as they left Cashman's courtroom.

Testimony at trial was that both Constants were drunk when Rieg and Kite went to their home after a neighbor called to report a disturbance.

Once they arrived, the disturbance escalated and Susan Constant was knocked into a wall and onto the floor. As his wife recovered, Edward Constant got a gun, a .44-caliber Magnum, from his night stand. He testified that he yelled at the officers to leave, and was waving the weapon in the direction of the door when it discharged.

Rieg was shot at close range in the chest area of the bulletproof vest he was wearing, knocking him off the front porch. Witnesses testified that Constant chased Kite, firing as many as two rounds as the officer retreated for cover. Constant claimed he acted with a desire to protect his wife from Rieg.

Boas said he will appeal the verdict. He said it was heartening that the jury did not convict Constant of assaulting his wife.

After the verdict, neither officer commented, but others spoke on their behalf.

Gene Roach, acting Mt. Lebanon deputy police chief, said both officers are relieved that the trial is over and they are back to work.

King, who lives in Mercer, said her son was relieved because "potentially four people could have been killed."

Earlier this week, Leah Ann Williams, Rieg's sister, said their late father, a Mt. Lebanon police officer for more than 30 years, would have been proud of how his son handled the incident.

"My other brother, Keith Rieg, is a policeman on the SWAT team in Dallas, Texas, and he, too, was shot at several years ago, but thankfully not hit," she said.

"It is my belief that my late father is watching my two brothers daily. There is no way that vest should have stopped a .44 Magnum at that close range. By the grace of God, my brother Dan was given a second chance and for that we are extremely thankful."


Staff writer Jim McKinnon contributed. Jan Ackerman can be reached at jackerman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1370.


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