Police link Daley to drug dealing

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(Host) The man wanted in connection with the death of a Vermont state trooper was captured on Tuesday in Pennsylvania.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Police say they apprehended 23-year old Eric Daley of Lebanon, New Hampshire without incident after learning early Tuesday that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail near Swiftwater, Pennsylvania. Apparently Daley planned to hike the trail in an effort to elude authorities.

Daley was the subject of an intense search in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts after he struck and killed Sergeant Michael Johnson of Bradford during a high speed chase on Interstate 91 in Norwich on Sunday afternoon. Daley had been pulled over for speeding. When state police indicated they wanted to search his car, Daley sped off. Sergeant Johnson was struck as he stood in the median after placing spike strips on the highway to stop Daley.

State Police say a search of Daley’s car after it was impounded turned up more than two pounds of marijuana, a quantity of cocaine and possibly LSD. Additionally, authorities say they found nearly $500 in cash. Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper says Daley had two prior convictions for drug possession and two pending felony drug charges in New Hampshire. Sleeper says police believe Daley was stopped while he was on his way to make a drug deal. He called Johnson’s death a drug-related crime, not a traffic accident.

(Sleeper) “The death of Sergeant Johnson was not a motor vehicle incident that escalated out of control. The death of Sergeant Johnson was a calculated decision by a drug dealer to avoid arrest at any cost. Even when Sergeant Johnson lay fatally injured on the ground, the suspect chose to flee the scene rather than render assistance. One calculated and criminal choice after another to perpetuate his drug business.”

(Zind) Authorities say Daley received rides from several friends in his efforts to elude police and they suspect some who helped Daley knew he was a fugitive. They say it’s too early to tell if charges will be brought against anyone who assisted Daley.

Police say Daley made statements to authorities when he was captured, but they declined to elaborate. Daley will be arraigned in Pennsylvania. It’s unclear when he will be returned to Vermont.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Norwich.

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