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Poplawski Found Guilty On 3 Counts Of 1st-Degree Murder

PITTSBURGH,None — Richard Poplawski has been found guilty on all 28 counts he faced, including three counts of first-degree murder.

Poplawski, 24, killed officers Paul Sciullo II, Stephen Mayhle and Eric Kelly on April 4, 2009. The three officers responded to Poplawski's home after his mother, Margaret, reported that an argument between the two had escalated.

On Saturday night, about 50 Pittsburgh police officers lined the hallway outside Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning's courtroom and burst into applause when Deputy District Attorney Mark Tranquilli emerged.

"That was a very touching thing for them to do. We're dealing with not just three families; we're really dealing with four. I think the fourth family is really the entire law enforcement community of Allegheny County," Tranquilli told Channel 11.

Poplawski did not comment as he was taken from the courtroom, and the judge ordered his mother, Margaret, removed as well after she stood up. Manning said he was concerned she was about to create an outburst and had sheriff's deputies remove her as a precaution. As a result, Margaret Poplawski was not immediately available for comment after the verdict.

The trial now enters a penalty phase in which the jury will hear evidence about his mental state, background and other factors before determining if he gets the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

The jury in the case began deliberating around 4 p.m. on Saturday.

During deliberations, Channel 11 spoke with Margaret Poplawski, and his great aunt, who did not give her name. Margaret Poplawski had no comment.

"We're hoping we can save his life," said his great aunt.

Closing arguments ended just before 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Tranquilli ended his 90-minute closing argument, describing Poplawski as a trigger happy loner with no regard for human life.

Public defender Lisa Middleman ended her hour-long closing argument, suggesting that prosecutors and police used forensic evidence to twist and distort the truth. She told the jury there is no proof Poplawski intended to kill the officers, an element necessary for first-degree murder convictions.

The defense rested without calling a single witness on Saturday.

VIDEO: Poplawski After Guilty Verdict VIDEO: Attorney Mark Tranquilli Talks After Guilty Verdict VIDEO: Poplawski's Mom, Aunt Talk During Deliberations VIDEO: Attorneys Talk During Deliberations AUDIO: Poplawski 911 Call (Warning: Graphic Language) VIDEO: Poplawski Video: 'I Wish I Killed More Cops' FBI ANIMATION: Poplawski's Point of View in Police Shootout (Warning: May be Graphic) SLIDESHOW: Courtroom Sketches; Evidence Photos UPDATES: WPXI's Courtroom Updates

Middleman called none of the dozens of potential witnesses she listed before the trial. Instead, she showed the jury a collection of photographs from the home of Poplawski and diagrams that described the wounds of Sciullo and Mayhle.

Middleman argued that police couldn't account for the actions and whereabouts of Margaret Poplawski, until police were able to coax her out of the home shortly before her son surrendered, more than three hours after the shootings. Margaret Poplawski was never charged in the shootings or with any crimes related to it.

Middleman said Sciullo's wounds suggested that someone else might have been involved because a pathologist testified Sciullo was hit with fire from three types of guns.

Tranquilli told the judge that Poplawski shot Sciullo with all three weapons, noting that neighbors testified they saw him standing over the officer and firing shots on the front stoop.

Tranquilli contended Poplawski donned a bullet-proof vest and shot Sciullo as he arrived at the front door to investigate the disturbance call. The 29-year-old Mayhle then chased Poplawski into the house and traded gunfire with him, Tranquilli said. Mayhle twice shot Poplawski -- once in the upper chest, which was stopped by the vest, and in the leg, Tranquilli said.

Poplawski eventually surrendered after calling 911 to say he was losing blood and needed medical attention for the leg wound. Before that, Tranquilli said, he shot the 41-year-old Kelly, then traded gunfire with officers who surrounded the house.

Tranquilli called 41 witnesses and introduced about 500 exhibits before he rested his case Friday.

Previous Stories: June 24, 2011: Poplawski Trial: Computer Hard Drive Info Revealed June 23, 2011: Slug Found Embedded In Poplawski's Bulletproof Vest June 22, 2011: Man Convicted Of Threatening Judge Attempts To Enter Poplawski Trial June 22, 2011: Poplawski 911 Call: 'I'm Lying In A Pool Of My Own Blood' June 21, 2011: Teen Says Poplawski Told Him 'I Shot 3 Cops' June 10, 2011: Jury Selected In Poplawski Trial June 3, 2011: Online Rants Barred From Poplawski Trial June 3, 2011: Judge To Decide If Online Postings Can Be Used In Poplawski Trial June 28, 2010: Accused Cop Killer's Trial Delayed; Poplawski Requests New Attorney June 3, 2010: Mom Of Pittsburgh Police Shooting Suspect Sues Allegheny County May 24, 2010: Cost Of Accused Police Killer's Trial Could Break Record January 20, 2010: Poplawski Case To Have Jurors From Another County December 16, 2009: Prosecutors Unveil New Weapon In Trial Against Poplawski October 21, 2009: Judge Polls Jurors To Determine Possibility Of Fair Trial For Poplawski September 4, 2009: Police: Friend Of Poplawski Made Threat On Police

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