Testimony: Suspect confessed to killing 3 Pa. cops

June 24, 2011 - 10:15 PM

PITTSBURGH (AP) — At least two law enforcement officers testified Friday that a Pittsburgh man charged with killing three city police officers later confessed to the crime.

The witnesses were among the last of more than 40 to be called before the prosecution rested in the weeklong murder trial of Richard Poplawski.

The 24-year-old suspect is accused of gunning down officers Paul Sciullo II, Stephen Mayhle and Eric Kelly at his home in April 2009 when they responded to a 911 call from Poplawski's mother about a domestic dispute with her son.

In court on Friday, both Allegheny County Deputy Sheriff Troy Garrett and city police Detective James R. Smith testified that Poplawski confessed while shackled to a hospital bed the day after the slayings.

Garrett said the suspect choked up and said he was sorry about shooting the officers. Poplawski said he knew the officers had families and that "up until today he was no murderer," Garrett testified.

"He said it all just happened so fast," Garrett said. "He just didn't know what happened."

But some witnesses also said that Poplawski lashed out at the officers guarding him in the hospital, where he was taken after being arrested. At least one shot during the gunfight hit Poplawski's bulletproof vest, according to testimony.

Poplawski screamed obscenities at police in an attempt to goad them, Officer Thomas Duffola testified Friday.

"I should have killed more of you," Duffola recalled Poplawski saying.

Prosecutors also played a video of Poplawski inside a jail cell shouting that he wished he killed more police.

The defense is expected to put on its case Saturday, with jury deliberations possibly beginning that evening.