An escaped convict who admitted killing a New York state trooper and wounding two others during the largest manhunt in state history was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole.
Ralph “Bucky” Phillips, 44, unsuccessfully sought to withdraw his guilty plea and then apologized to the troopers’ families before being sentenced in Chautauqua County Court. He pleaded guilty last month to the aggravated murder of Trooper Joseph Longobardo and the attempted murder of Donald Baker Jr.
But at his sentencing, Phillips told Judge Richard Kloch he never intended to kill anyone.
“My intentions were to humiliate them,” Phillips said. “Tie them up with duct tape and call 911.”
Kloch denied the request to withdraw the plea: “You knew what you were doing.”
Kloch also sentenced Phillips to 40 years to life for wounding Baker.
The officers were shot while staking out the rural home of Phillips’ ex-girlfriend on Aug. 31 as part of an intensive effort to capture Phillips after the June 10 shooting of another trooper during a traffic stop near Elmira.
While pleading guilty, Phillips told the judge he knew police had his relatives and friends under surveillance when he fired at Longobardo and Baker with a stolen high-powered rifle. He has since said in letters from jail that he believed the men he shot were bounty hunters.
Charges against relatives dropped
In exchange for the pleas, Chautauqua County District Attorney David Foley said he agreed to drop charges against Phillips’ daughter, Patrina Wright, and her mother, Kasey Crowe.
Wright was charged with child endangerment for allowing Phillips to visit her children while he was on the run. Crowe was charged with hindering prosecution.
Later on Tuesday, Phillips was sentenced in Buffalo to 25 years to life for escaping from an Erie County jail in April by using an industrial can opener to cut a hole in kitchen ceiling. He spent five months on the run before being captured just across the Pennsylvania line Sept. 8.
On Wednesday, he is to be sentenced in Chemung County, where he has pleaded guilty to attempted murder for shooting Trooper Sean Brown in June. Brown has since returned to duty.