MAYVILLE, N.Y. – A former fugitive whose dramatic capture at the edge of a Pennsylvania field ended the largest manhunt in New York state history pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting three state troopers, one of whom died.
Ralph "Bucky" Phillips pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in the killing of Joseph Longobardo and the attempted aggravated murder of Donald Baker Jr. as the troopers staked out a home while searching for him Aug. 31.
Asked by a Chautauqua County judge if he knew the rifle he used to shoot Longobardo and Baker was capable of killing, he said: "Indeed I did."
He had appeared upbeat as he entered the courtroom in Mayville, waving to relatives and mugging for cameras.
The pleas in Chautauqua County came hours after the 44-year-old career criminal pleaded guilty in Chemung County to the attempted murder of Sean Brown, who was shot during a traffic stop near Elmira on June 10.
Phillips had used an industrial can opener to escape from an Erie County jail near Buffalo on April 2.
Throughout the summer, troopers from around the state were assigned to follow a trail of stolen cars, burglaries and sightings across western New York.
Longobardo, 32, and Baker, 38, were shot Aug. 31 behind the home of Phillips' ex-girlfriend as they staked out the location. Longobardo's leg was amputated and he died three days later.
Authorities finally closed in on Phillips near the New York-Pennsylvania line Sept. 8. He emerged from a field with his hands up, clearly worn down by the long chase.
Phillips is to be sentenced Dec. 20. District Attorney John Trice said Phillips could get up to life in prison.
"It was very disturbing to me to watch his mannerisms," State Police Maj. Steven White said after the hearing in Chemung County. "My perception is that he was indifferent, demonstrated no remorse whatsoever and almost couldn't be bothered with today's proceedings."
Phillips also is expected to admit to an escape charge Thursday in Erie County.