Poplawski's online writings not allowed during his trial

But could be used in a sentence phase

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The prosecution trying the case against Richard Poplawski, the Stanton Heights man accused of killing three police officers, will not be allowed to use his racist online rants when his trial begins later this month.

But they could be used in the death penalty portion of the trial if Mr. Poplawski is convicted.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning ruled Friday that 41 pages of material from the website Stormfront -- popular among white supremacists -- will not be permitted to be heard by the jury.

At a pretrial hearing on the matter, defense attorney William Brennan said he didn't believe that any of the comments made by his client related to the charges against him.

Mr. Poplawski is accused of killing Officers Eric G. Kelly, Paul J. Sciullo II and Stephen J. Mayhle on April 4, 2009, when they went to his mother's home in Stanton Heights, answering a call for a domestic dispute.

"Looking at the 41 pages, it's not relevant in any way, shape or form regarding motive in the deaths of three police officers," Mr. Brennan said. "There's not any actual threat to any racial group ... or toward the police in the 41 pages."

Judge Manning told assistant district attorney Lisa Pellegrini that he didn't see the relevance either.

"Even if Mr. Poplawski harbored racist or anti-Semitic views, what does that have to do with this case?" he asked.

The judge said he would allow the postings to be used in the penalty phase of the case should Mr. Poplawski be convicted of first-degree murder. In that phase, it could come into play to rebut evidence presented by the defense about Mr. Poplawski's character.

The trial is scheduled to begin June 20.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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