Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 29, 2006

PHILLIPS CASE: Ex-fugitive “Bucky” Phillips pleads guilty to shooting troopers (5 p.m.)

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Former fugitive Ralph “Bucky” Phillips, whose dramatic capture at the edge of a Pennsylvania field ended the largest manhunt in New York history, pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting three state troopers, one of whom died.

Phillips pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of Joseph Longobardo and attempted aggravated murder for shooting Donald Baker Jr. as the troopers staked out a home in search of Phillips on Aug. 31.

Those pleas in Chautauqua County came hours after the 44-year-old career criminal pleaded guilty before a Chemung County judge to the attempted murder of Trooper Sean Brown, who survived being shot during a traffic stop near Elmira June 10.

Phillips appeared upbeat as he entered the courtroom, waving to family members in the front row and mugging for cameras.

He loudly and clearly answered a series of questions from the judge.

When asked if he knew the rifle he used to shoot the troopers was capable of killing, he said, “Indeed I did.”

Phillips shot Longobardo, 32, and Baker, 38, once each with a high-powered rifle in woods behind the isolated hilltop home of Phillips’ ex-girlfriend, Kasey Crowe. Longobardo had his leg amputated and died three days later. Baker was shot through the torso and was hospitalized almost three months.

Shortly before the plea, Phillips was charged in a seven-count indictment with the murder and attempted murder counts, as well as first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, burglary and grand larceny. As part of the plea bargain, he admitted breaking into a local gun shop where he stole the rifle used to attack the troopers.

He faces life without parole when he is sentenced Dec. 19 and is scheduled to appear Thursday morning in a Buffalo courtroom to plead guilty to escaping from an Erie County jail in April.

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