HARRISBURG – With an efficiency rarely seen in state government, the head of PennDOT was tried and executed within three hours today before a jeering crowd of witnesses at the so-called "Snow Tribunal" called in Harrisburg to adjudicate wrongdoing associated with the state's severe winter weather last week. Allen Biehler was charged with crimes against both humanity and Pennsylvanians after PennDOT’s poor response to the snow and ice storm that began February 14.
A cavalcade of storm victims took the witness stand to describe collisions, ruined suspensions, and cold and lonely hours trapped on interstate highways by the storm. Many dissolved into tears as they described the ordeal. Biehler periodically interrupted the proceedings by defiantly shouting, “It was a perfect storm! It’s better to leave a layer of snow on the road!” At one point he shouted, "Death to America," but quickly caught himself. The panel of Justices ultimately ordered him removed from court, and Biehler was forced to watch the testimony on closed-circuit television over the objections of his attorneys.
After deliberations lasting less than ten minutes, the Court handed down a 5-0 decision finding Biehler guilty on all counts and sentencing him to death. Four Justices did not participate in the decision because they were not able to dig out their cars.
State officials had hoped for a dignified hanging, but the execution witnesses began to jeer Mr. Biehler as he entered the concrete-block chamber. Most of the taunts cannot be reprinted here. Television stations did not show the entire execution, but showed Mr. Biehler refusing a hood for his head and the noose being placed around his neck.
In a statement after the execution, Governor Ed Rendell said, “Today, Allen Biehler was executed after receiving a fair trial. Biehler’s execution comes at the end of a difficult week for Pennsylvania. Bringing Biehler to justice will not end the road problems right away, but at least it takes the heat off of me.” Rendell retracted a statement he had made Saturday: "I accept full responsibility for what happened and our inadequate and unacceptable response. Of course, I was just re-elected and I'm never running again, so there's not much voters can do to get back at me."