Two Convicted in Officer’s 1969 Slaying
Two black men were convicted Thursday of murdering a white rookie police officer during race riots that rocked the city in 1969.
It was the second murder trial stemming from the violence that tore apart this small south-central Pennsylvania city more than three decades ago.
Stephen Freeland and Leon Wright were found guilty of second-degree murder and face a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison in the slaying of patrolman Henry Schaad.
Schaad’s older brother, Barry, said the family could now visit Schaad’s grave and “tell him that justice has been done.”
Schaad, 22, died two weeks after being shot. The riots left two people dead, dozens injured and entire blocks burned before 400 state police and National Guardsmen with rifles and tanks quelled the violence.
Last year, two white men were convicted and the city’s former mayor was acquitted in the slaying of a young black woman during the riots.
Freeland, 51, was accused of firing the bullet that pierced an armored police truck and felled the officer. Wright, 54, was accused of being among a group of black men who fired at the truck.
Freeland testified he was unarmed at the time of the officer’s shooting. Wright declined to testify, but his grand jury testimony was read into the record. In it, he said he was sitting on his porch up to 60 yards from the intersection where the attackers fired.
The jury of 11 whites and one black began deliberating Wednesday.
Freeland’s attorney said he would appeal. Freeland already was behind bars on unrelated charges and returned to jail after the verdict. His relatives said they believe he is innocent.
“He gave it his best,” said his sister, Lorita Freeland, 52. “He told the truth and it wasn’t good enough.”
Wright declined to talk after the verdict. His attorney, William Fulton, said he and his client would consider their options.
The slaying cases were reopened in 1999.
Three days after Schaad was shot, a black woman, Lillie Belle Allen, was gunned down as she and her family drove in a white neighborhood. A jury in October convicted two white former gang members of murder in Allen’s slaying and acquitted former Mayor Charlie Robertson.