MAYVILLE, N.Y. – 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 asked 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.
The officers were shot while staking out the rural home of Phillips' ex-girlfriend on Aug. 31 as part of a massive effort to capture Phillips following 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.
Phillips was scheduled to be sentenced in Buffalo later Tuesday for escaping from an Erie County prison 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 scheduled 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.