A day after swaggering into court and admitting killing one state trooper and wounding two others, a former fugitive pleaded guilty Thursday to a jail escape that led to the largest manhunt in state history.
“Guilty as hell,” Ralph “Bucky” Phillips said when asked by a judge how he wished to plead.
In a repeat of court appearances Wednesday, Phillips was upbeat, smiling and waving to supporters on his way in and out of the courtroom.
The 44-year-old career criminal broke out of a Buffalo-area jail in April by using an industrial can opener to cut a hole in the kitchen ceiling and eluded authorities for months. Phillips finally surrendered Sept. 8, emerging from a field near the New York-Pennsylvania line with his hands up as police closed in.
Phillips pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder and attempted murder for shooting two troopers in an ambush outside his ex-girlfriend’s home Aug. 31. Hours before that plea, he pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the shooting of another trooper during a traffic stop.
Phillips is expected to spend his life in prison after sentencing Dec. 19 and Dec. 20.