KENAI — A 58-year-old man accused of stabbing a woman more than two dozen times with a screwdriver in a killing 30 years ago received a maximum 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
Jimmy Eacker was sentenced Wednesday at the Kenai Courthouse , according to the Peninsula Clarion.
Toni Lister was 29 when her body was found April 17, 1982, in the woods near the Seward city dump. After a 2010 murder sentence of 99 years in prison was thrown out due to withheld evidence, Eacker pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December 2011.
Lister’s friends and family sobbed as Superior Court Judge Anna Moran imposed the sentence of 20 years with two suspended followed by 10 years of probation. Eacker will receive credit for time served awaiting trial. He was arrested in late August 2007 in Fairbanks.
“I want to remind everyone what it means to stab someone 26 times,” Moran said as she counted to 26 before the court, taking her time by emphasizing the duration of the attack.
Heather Green, Lister’s youngest daughter, said she was pleased with the judge’s sentence. She was 5 years old when her mother was killed. Although she had ideas about what happened, nothing prepared her for the details that emerged during years of court proceedings, she said.
“Jimmy Eacker threw our mother away like she was a piece of trash,” she said. “I wonder if he’s remorseful. We don’t believe he is.”
The sentencing began early Tuesday morning. Paul Miovas, state cold case prosecutor, focused his arguments on the violent nature of the killing and argued for the maximum 20-year sentence. Lister had been sexually assaulted and stabbed in the chest, head and neck with a screwdriver, authorities said.
Evidence presented during sentencing supports the idea that Eacker already has been rehabilitated, said defense attorney Tracey Wollenberg.
“This is not the same Jimmy Eacker from 1982,” she said. “This is the Mr. Eacker of 2012.
Witnesses were asked repeatedly if they saw Eacker, who gave up drinking in the early 1990s, consuming alcohol.
The defense also pointed questions toward Eacker’s work ethic and social abilities.
Longtime friend and Eacker’s employer Terrance McLean also was called as a witness. McLean owned a liquor store in which Eacker worked for about four years. He employed Eacker through odd jobs like snow plowing, too.
McLean spoke highly of his friend. Eacker suffered a heart attack and was unable to pay $350 per month for rent for three years, McLean recalled.
The money eventually was paid back in full, he said.
“I trusted him like a brother,” he said. “None of us in Fairbanks could believe it when the state took him away.”
At the time of his arrest, Eacker had been living in Fairbanks for several years.
“All those ... good times described by his friends are events after the murder, events that the Listers missed out on. He robbed that family of a mother,” Miovas said.