Man gets death sentence for rape, murder of 14-year-old Pennsylvania girl

Man gets death sentence for rape, murder of 14-year-old Pennsylvania girl

By David DeKok, Reuters

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – A jury in suburban Philadelphia sentenced a man to death by lethal injection on Thursday for the rape, murder, and dismemberment of a 14-year-old girl who had lived with him and his girlfriend, the teenager’s adoptive mother, authorities said.

Jacob Sullivan, 46, of Quakertown, showed no emotion at the death sentence, according to the Allentown Morning Call newspaper.

“The butchery in this case was beyond my ability to describe,” Judge Diane Gibbons told the jury. “To live through it vicariously through the photos and the tapes and the recordings … must have taken a toll.”

She urged them to seek counseling if necessary.

Sullivan never denied raping and murdering Grace Packer in 2016, telling police he did it to fulfill a sexual fantasy.

“He got what he deserved, plain and simple,” said Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub. “Death is the appropriate sentence for this man.”

Sullivan was represented by the county’s public defenders office, which said it had no comment.

His girlfriend, Sara Packer, 44, of Quakertown, Grace’s adoptive mother and a former Northampton County adoption supervisor, pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

Late on Wednesday, after nearly 10 hours of deliberations over two days, the jurors told Judge Gibbons they were deadlocked. She sent them home overnight and by Thursday morning, they had reached a verdict.

The details of the case have been known from court documents since Sullivan and Packer were arrested more than two years ago.

The couple began plotting to kill Grace in late 2015, but did not carry out the deed until July 8, 2016. After taking Grace to their new home in Quakertown, Sullivan struck the girl repeatedly in the face and then raped her in the attic as Packer watched, authorities said.

He strangled the teenager after a drug overdose failed to kill her, then hid her body in the attic. In the fall of 2016, worried that police were closing in, the couple cut up the body and dumped the pieces in a forest upstate, where they were found by hunters.

The prosecution played a tape in court of Sullivan’s confession, during which he chuckled at times while recounting the gory details of his crimes.

He will join 142 other prisoners on Pennsylvania’s death row. The state has not executed anyone since 1999. Governor Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on executions when he took office in 2015, but juries can still impose the sentence.

Reporting by David DeKok; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bernadette Baum

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