Convicted Pa. cop killer is sentenced to death

By JOE MANDAK | June 28, 2011 | 7:14 PM EDT

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A jury has imposed the death penalty against a Pittsburgh man who gunned down three police officers in April 2009.

The same jury convicted 24-year-old Richard Poplawski (paw-PLAW'-skee) on Saturday of first-degree murder and 25 lesser charges. The sentencing verdict imposed Tuesday means Poplawski will die by lethal injection, although automatic appeals in such cases typically delay executions for years.

Jurors sentenced Poplawski after hearing tearful testimony from 10 surviving family members of his victims, officers Paul Sciullo II, Stephen Mayhle and Eric Kelly. They weighed that against testimony from Poplawski's family and teachers who spoke of his dysfunctional home life and distant relationship with his divorced mother.

Poplawski killed the officers after they responded to his mother's 911 call about an argument that began over his puppies, who urinated on the floor that morning.