Trial set in Seward cold case murder

Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Kenai Superior Court judge, on Tuesday, set the trial of Jimmy Eacker for the week of Dec. 3 in Seward. Eacker is accused of murdering a Seward woman 25 years ago.

Judge Peter Ashman set a hearing in the case for Nov. 16 and trial call for Nov. 28 in Kenai.

Public defender Benjaman Adams entered pleas of "not guilty" on behalf of Eacker, who was arraigned on one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder.

Eacker is accused of killing Toni Lister, who was 29 when her body was found April 17, 1982, in the woods near the Seward city dump. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed in the chest, head and neck, according to authorities.

Seward police investigated after Lister's husband reported her missing, and Eacker had been identified as a suspect, but he was never charged.

Cold case investigators with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation in Soldotna began reviewing the case last year at the request of Seward police, and Eacker was arrested late in August in Fairbanks, where he had been living for the past several years.

When being questioned by Ashman to determine if he qualified for a state-provided defense attorney, Eacker said he had been earning $1,000 a month on and off for the past four years.

Ashman asked how much money he brought home each month after taxes.

"A thousand a month. No taxes," Eacker said.

He said he had between $1,600 and $1,700 when he was arrested, he owned no land, and he owned no personal property worth more than $1,000.

The public defender was appointed.

Two of Lister's four daughters Kimberly and Tricia Thomas listened to the proceedings telephonically, and two of her three sisters Deborah and Barbara Davis of Soldotna were present in the Kenai courtroom.

"We're very anxious for it to begin," Deborah Davis said. "It's been a long time coming."

"I want some closure; I want justice to be served," Barbara Davis said.

The two said they were surprised when investigators contacted them a year ago about the case.

If convicted, Eacker could be sentenced to 20-99 years in prison on the first-degree murder charge and 10-99 years for second-degree murder.

He is being held in the Wildwood Pretrial Facility on $250,000 bail and the requirement of a court-approved, third-party custodian if released on bail.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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