Poplawski Likely To Have Lengthy Stay On Death Row

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Since the late 1970s, hundreds of death warrants have been signed by Pennsylvania governors, but only three convicted murderers have been executed and none in the last 12 years.

This contrasts with states like Texas where 470 have been executed, including six this year alone or Virginia with 108 executions. Oklahoma has executed 96 and Florida executed 69.

“Pennsylvania courts pay great attention to these matters, maybe more attention than the courts in Texas because of the finality of the penalty if you’re wrong,” says criminal defense attorney Paul Boas.

Boas says state courts take death penalty cases very seriously.

“We know that there’s no room for error on the state in the event a person is executed and then we find later that he was innocent or denied a fair trial,” he said.
That’s why it will take years for Richard Poplawski to exhaust his appeals.

After Poplawski’s final sentencing in September, he has the right to take appeal of his case to the state Supreme Court. Sometimes it takes that court five to 10 years to reach a final decision and once they decide, Poplawski can go back to the local trial court and say he had bad counsel or some new evidence. When that’s resolved, he then has a federal right to go through the federal court process all over again.

“It goes on and on and on and so we have people on death row sometimes for 25 years or more,” says Boas.

Boas says, in this state, death penalty sentences often get reversed in part because Pennsylvania is the only state that does not provide state resources to local public defenders.

Boas predicts more resources would provide different outcomes.

“Either they wouldn’t get the death penalty and we wouldn’t have all this problem, or they’d get it but the appeals would be shorter because they’re would be no good issues to raise.”

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  • Brad

    He should have been executed 2 years ago by one of the responding officers. This does 2 things, it ends his miserable waste of life and shuts his mother up for good. The way I see it, that’s the best win win we are going to get out of the loss of these 3 men.

  • Anonymous

    I say execute the SOB ASAP why should we have to pay for his sorry ass. He is guilty as sin. I feel they should have taken him out a long time ago an eye for an eye.

  • marilyn

    There is no way that “down the road” they are going to find this cop killer innocent. He doesn’t need to have more trials that we pay for to prove that he did it. He killed three innocent people and there is no way this verdict is going to be overturned. In cases like this, he should be executed. If other states can do iit, Pennsylvania should be able to start executing people who have been convictede of such heinous crimes.

  • Chris

    Living in a Pittsburgh Suburb I can’t help but compare this to the Kills for Thrills run which ended with the murder of Apollo Police Officer Leonard Miller by a cold blooded killer Michael Travaglia (who killed 4 people before this). In his case their was no shred of proof of any kind to his innocence (same as Poplawski’s case) and was sentenced to death back when the Steelers won their 4th Super Bowl Ring. Here we are 30 years later and Travaglia is still walking the earth. Pennsylvania needs to wake up and stop allowing these people to get away with murder. For if you let these kind of people live, like Travaglia, on taxpayers dollars that is exactly what you are letting them do; and it is an insult to everyone!

  • swin

    There is no constitutional right to an appeal. This is just the system created by the bleeding heart liberals. Let’s try this new system – the defendant has 30 days to file all his appeals. Afterwards, a three judge panel has 30 days to rule on the legitimacy of any of the appeals. Their ruling is based on the assumption that people are not perfect and that there is no such thing as a perfect trial. If the panel finds that even if their were errors they were not serious enough to impact on the final verdict of the trial, then the panel rules that the case is closed and the sentence is to be carried out. The defendant has 30 more days to get his affairs in order. The execution is then carried out 90 days after the verdict was handed down.

    And for all the bleeding hearts who argue that capital punishment does not deter crime, consider these two facts:
    1. We do not know, because we don’t try, to find out how much of a deterrent capital punishment is when it is carried out quickly after the crime.
    2. No criminal ever executed for a crime has ever committed another crime – never. That is a 100% deterrent rate.

  • steve


  • Doberman

    It’s a shame that the officers were all Americans protecting Pittsburgh and not one from Saudi Arabia, His ass would have been shipped back to S.A., and come Friday his head would have been on Choppen Block Square. End of story. That’s Speedy, cost a lot less than 20~30 years in jail and let him have his belt and all the rope he wants when he is in jail. If that doesn’t sit well with some people then just let him hold the target at the Police Academy firing range. God bless and watch over all the Officers that protect and serve.

  • Just Saying...

    It was reported that Poplawski told his lawyer he was sorry when the verdict came down. If he is truely sorry he would skip the appeals and face his inevitable fate…DEATH.

  • Marlo

    There is no excuse for what Poplawski did. I am glad he received the death penalty, but I do not believe in it being drawn out to a later date. The death penalty should be publicized, and implemented immediately within 48hrs of being found guilty. If our country enforced the death penalty then maybe criminals and society would take the law more seriously, and the crime rate would drop. Televising the execution would show society that there is justice, and if you are going to commit such a haneous act than there are consequences. Really he took 3 lives and he gets to sit in a cell, eat food, breathe our air, and live? Those kinds of people should have no rights. So what he had a bad child hood. So did millions of other people, but they do not all go out and take anothers life. He destroyed innocent families. Look at our prisons in Pittsburgh. They are overcrowded at the moment. What is funny is yes Poplawski got what he deserved, but there are so many other cases where the judicial system has failed especially when a person is caught and charged with possession, non payment of child support, missing hearings, and they face more time and harsher consequences than a petifile, murderer,or burglar, etc. That is sad. It should be the other way around, Our judicial system came through this time, but unfortunately it rarely works out that way, Pa laws are contradicting, the Asst DA’s take the easy cases and try to prosecute innocent people for minute crimes when they should be keeping the child molesters off of the strret such as one that is a 10yr offender working in a public restaurant, on probation, but yet gets away with repeating the offense, threatening bodily harrm to coworkers, physically grabbing girls, and the owner says nothing, and that man could go to the restroom and your son could be in there. So how is the law protecting us and our children? They are not because all they are worried about is making DA, having a good looking prosecution record, driving around in those expensive cars our tax dollars helped pay for, and they get the last laugh. Who wins here? Not us…. And nothing will ever change til society wakes up and sees that we don’t have the final vote, because the government, and our state representatives don’t care what we think or have to say, they already have their minds made up and our vote is just a way of them making us believe that the are listening to us. The criminals have more rights, and freedoms, and are better protected than the non criminals. Its bad enough the committed a crime, but now they get to live for free? yes behind bars, and they are protected and kept safe? They have it better on the inside than alot of us do on the outside.

  • Marlo

    Appeals they shouldn’t be so lucky to even have those….. He should suffer 100 times worse than what those familes will have to suffer for the rest of their lives.

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