Judge sets Oct. 12 trial for Poplawski
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The defense attorney who represents the man accused of killing three Pittsburgh police officers a year ago in Stanton Heights said Tuesday that an Oct. 12 trial date does not give her ample time to prepare.
"I think it is grossly unfair to require the defense to basically do a hurry-up and prepare defense in this case," said Assistant Public Defender Lisa Middleman.
But Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey A. Manning told Ms. Middleman that when she was appointed to represent Richard Poplawski that his was expected to be her only case.
"I'm not going to argue this any further," the judge said. "You now have six months to prepare this case. That should be more than ample time."
Judge Manning set the trial date during a brief hearing on Tuesday. Jury selection will begin three weeks earlier -- on Sept. 20 -- in Dauphin County.
The panel will be brought in from elsewhere because of extensive pretrial publicity in the Pittsburgh region. Jurors will be sequestered throughout the trial.
Because of the inconvenience those jurors will experience, Judge Manning also told both the prosecution and defense that they are required to have co-counsel on the case in the event an attorney becomes indisposed during the trial to avoid any delays.
Mr. Poplawski is charged with dozens of counts stemming from a domestic dispute at his Fairfield Street home on April 4. His mother called police the morning of April 4, and the prosecution says, Mr. Poplawski opened fire on officers immediately upon their entry to the home.
Killed in the shootings were Officers Eric G. Kelly, Paul J. Sciullo II and Stephen J. Mayhle.
Judge Manning must still consider a motion to suppress statements Mr. Poplawski made while being treated at the hospital in the hours after the shootings.
Ms. Middleman has argued that her client was under the influence of pain medication and was not emotionally stable enough to speak to officers.
One additional witness on that issue is expected to testify at a hearing on April 19.
Judge Manning also set the first week of May as the deadline for Ms. Middleman to decide if Mr. Poplawski will pursue any type of affirmative defense in the case -- like insanity.
Last week, Judge Manning entered an order appointing a psychologist to perform neuropsychological testing and an evaluation.
First Published April 7, 2010 12:00 am