A Kenai judge approved a third-party custodian for alleged murderer Jimmy Eacker at a bail hearing Friday, but maintained the $250,000 cash performance bond.
Defense attorney Benjaman Adams argued Eacker would not be a flight risk or a danger to the community if released, and requested that Judge Anna Moran reduce bail from $250,000 to $10,000 and approve Pam Hemphill as a third-party custodian.
Eacker was convicted of first-degree murder in March 2010 for the 1982 fatal stabbing of Toni Lister. He was granted a new trial in February after Moran ruled the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence during the original trial.
Paul Miovas, the assistant attorney general in charge of cold case prosecution, appeared telephonically and opposed Adams' request for a drastic reduction in bail.
"I believe that the bail has been meaningfully set in this case and that reduction is not warranted," Miovas said. "And even if the court is inclined to give a reduction, Judge, the proposed amount of $10,000 is not even what I would consider in the realm of reasonable."
Miovas initially supported Hemphill, a friend of Eacker's since the 70s, as a third-party custodian; that is until she made a statement during Moran's questioning that Miovas called "very troubling."
Moran asked Hemphill if she was aware of Eacker's past convictions, enumerating them one after the other as Hemphill answered in the affirmative each time.
"You heard that he has a conviction for armed robbery?" Moran asked. "And he has a conviction for sexually assaulting the daughter of some friends of his when he was drinking? You understand that? And he's had a DUI? And, if you were here (during the sentencing), you also heard the testimony of two women who said he sexually assaulted them when they were younger?"
After making sure Hemphill was aware of these indiscretions, Moran asked if Hemphill had any concerns about a man with such a record living in the house with her and, especially, her daughter.
Hemphill responded no, she had no concerns, and when Moran asked why not, she said that Eacker had never caused problems in her house and that she knew the family and their daughter that Eacker had assaulted.
"Yes, I know those friends," Hemphill said. "And I know their daughter. And the daughter put the same moves on my husband."
The disbelief in the room was palpable.
"Did I just hear you correctly when you said that the same girl who was involved in that ... did you say she put the moves on your husband as well?" Movias asked, incredulous.
Hemphill confirmed that, yes, she had said that; that the girl had come into her living room when she was 12 or 13 and "plopped on my husband's lap and started doing the squirm thing on him."
The comment seemed even more crass when Movias pointed out that the girl also has Down syndrome.
"Quite honestly, I didn't really have many concerns about Ms. Hemphill after I discussed the situation with her yesterday," Movias told the judge. "But when you engaged in your inquiry and she basically made the comment about the 13-year-old with Down syndrome -- she seemed to suggest that it was her fault that she was sexually assaulted."
Moran, who also appeared to be taken aback by the tactless statement, ultimately approved Hemphill, but stated, "I don't think she's a strong enough third-party custodian for me to reduce that amount of bail at this particular time."
Bail remains at $250,000, and Eacker will remain in custody pending his ability to raise that amount.
"I couldn't pay $250,000," Adams said. "There will be no change in custodial status for Mr. Eacker."
Karen Garcia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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