Image: Ralph "Bucky" Phillips
Don Heupel  /  AP
New York State Police escort Ralph "Bucky" Phillips out of the Chemung County Courthouse in Elmira, N.Y., on Saturday.
updated 9/9/2006 7:53:30 PM ET 2006-09-09T23:53:30

A former fugitive suspected of fatally shooting a state trooper and wounding two others made his first court appearance Saturday, hours after surrendering in a field over the Pennsylvania state line following a five-month manhunt.

Ralph “Bucky” Phillips, who once threatened to “splatter pig meat all over Chautauqua County” in upstate New York, was charged in Chemung County with eight counts, including attempted aggravated murder, first-degree attempted murder and second-degree attempted murder, all in connection with the shooting of a state trooper in June.

The exhausted and unshaven suspect answered “yes” when asked if he was Ralph Phillips and if he had received a copy of the federal complaint charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, the exhausted and unshaven suspect either looked at the floor or closed his eyes during the 12-minute arraignment. He was shackled at the ankles, with his wrists handcuffed, and was flanked by armed guards.

Phillips, a 44-year-old career thief who has spent 20 of the past 23 years in state prison, surrendered Friday night without firing a shot. The arrest capped the state’s largest manhunt after a frantic day that included troopers firing at Phillips as he hid in woods.

Federal prosecutor Terrance Flynn said he did not know when Phillips would be transferred to Chemung County, near the Pennsylvania line, where the state trooper was wounded on June 10.

Image: Joseph Longobardo
David Duprey  /  AP
Flowers surround a photo of New York state trooper Joseph Longobardo on Saturday.

State officials also expect to charge Phillips in the shootings, one fatal, of two troopers in Chautauqua County on Aug. 31. Authorities said he ambushed the two troopers as they staked out the home of Phillips’ former girlfriend.

Police have said he could also be charged with burglary and larceny for allegedly stealing more than a dozen vehicles and breaking into numerous cabins and a gun store while on the run.

On Most Wanted list
Phillips, who had also threatened to commit “suicide by cop,” had been placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list Thursday. The threat to “splatter pig meat” was in a note he left behind when he left the Chautauqua County Jail several years ago.

After his capture, Phillips was kept overnight in an isolation cell. “He seemed to be very quiet and reserved,” said Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard. He wouldn’t say if Phillips made any statements to police.

Howard said he had no plans to talk with Phillips. “I feel nothing but contempt and disgust for the man,” he said.

Phillips broke out of an Erie County jail in April, using a can opener to cut his way through a ceiling.

Since his escape, he had twisted and turned his way throughout southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, stealing cars, burglarizing homes and camps and relying on acquaintances for help, police said.

A wild chase
On Friday, shortly before 2 a.m., a police officer in Pennsylvania tried to pull over a car police said Phillips had stolen. After a short chase, the car crashed and Phillips bolted into the woods.

A half-hour later, Phillips stole a second car and drove back into New York, where troopers began a second chase, authorities said.

Phillips jumped out of the moving car and ducked into another wooded area, zigzagging back and forth between New York and Pennsylvania, authorities said. Dogs tracked his scent for several hours until he was spotted by two troopers, Bennett said.

As troopers approached, Phillips wheeled around with a pistol in his hand but did not fire, police said. One of the troopers fired an undisclosed number of shots as Phillips disappeared into thick woods.

Just before nightfall, 25 SWAT officers and 12 dogs swept through a field where he was thought to be hiding. He gave himself up around 8 p.m., police said.

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