Pennsylvania man facing death penalty for raping, murdering, and dismembering 14-year-old girl
The life of a Pennsylvania man, who pleaded guilty to raping, murdering, and dismembering a 14-year-old girl who his girlfriend was fostering, will be in the hands of a jury, which will decide whether or not to impose a death penalty.
According to WLOS, 46-year-old Jacob Sullivan pleaded guilty to all the charges against him — first-degree murder and 18 other original charges including rape and kidnapping — in the 2016 murder of Grace Packer just as jury selection was about to get underway for his trial. Now, the jury of six men and six women will have to be unanimous if they want to send Sullivan to death row, failing which he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. The sentencing proceedings are expected to last two weeks.
Jacob Sullivan pleaded guilty to first degree murder of 14 y/o Grace Packer. He appeared in Bucks County Court before a jury who is tasked with determining a sentence of life w/o parole or the death penalty. Sara Packer (left) could also plead guilty for her involvement. @69News pic.twitter.com/PSeMhZVwAL— Holly Harrar (@HollyHarrarTV) March 15, 2019
Sullivan and his girlfriend, 44-year-old Sara Packer, had reportedly been planning to kill Grace for years -finally deciding to put their plan into action in July 2016. They drove the teen from the home they rented in Abington to another they rented outside Quakertown, where Sullivan attacked her, punching her and raping her as Packer watched her boyfriend act out a rape-murder fantasy they shared.
They then drugged, bound, and gagged Grace and left her to die in the home's hot attic. Grace somehow managed to break free of the zip ties, spit out the ball gag in her mouth, and tried to overcome the drugs in her system, only to see Sullivan return and suffocate her to death.
The couple subsequently stored the 14-year-old's body in kitty litter for the next few months before cutting up her remains in a bathtub, driving to Luzerne County, and dumping them in the woods. Pieces of her body were found by hunters in October 2016.
The sentencing phase in the Grace Packer murder case is underway in Bucks County. A jury will decide whether Jacob Sullivan should get death, or life without parole for killing Packer in 2016. Live coverage from Doylestown at 5 & 6 on @CBS21NEWS. pic.twitter.com/99OAE2QPJL— Brian Sheehan (@BSheehanTV) March 15, 2019
Philly reported that Sullivan's public defender, Jack Fagan, spoke during a half-an-hour opening statement and lay the blame for the murder at the feet of Packer, asking the jury to consider her controlling nature while sentencing his client.
Fagan said that while Sullivan was responsible for kidnapping, raping, and choking Grace to death, it was Packer who "pulled the strings." He said it was the 44-year-old who gave the teen a concoction of drugs, bought the tools used in her murder and dismemberment, lied to police, and picked the site where the teen’s body was dumped, telling the jury, "Sara Packer was the driving factor in the intent, the planning, and the execution of what happened to her daughter."
Packer has made an agreement with prosecutors whereby she will plead guilty to first-degree murder and, in exchange, will reportedly receive a sentence of life in prison for her role in Grace's death. The deal could see her being called to testify for the defense during the penalty phase of Sullivan's trial.
According to Philly, as of March 1, 142 people were on death row in the state of Pennsylvania. However, the state has not executed anyone since "House of Horrors" murderer Gary Heidnik was killed by lethal injection in 1999.