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A Pennsylvania man who has admitted to murdering a 14-year-old girl in a rape fantasy he shared with the girl's adoptive mother may face the death penalty.
Jacob Sullivan, 46, pleaded guilty last month to all charges in the 2016 rape, death and dismemberment of Grace Packer. Now, a Pennsylvania jury will have to decide if he should get the death penalty for the heinous crime. The last time Pennsylvania executed someone was back in 1999, according to the Associated Press.
The sentencing phase of Sullivan’s trial begins Friday. Details of his crimes will be presented to a jury before they decide his fate, WFMZ in Allentown, Pennsylvania reports.
Grace’s adoptive mother, Sara Packer, 44, is expected to testify against Sullivan during the penalty phase. Packer has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, according to her attorney, Keith Williams.
Sullivan was Sara Packer’s boyfriend.
Prosecutors have said that Sara Packer, a former foster parent and county adoptions supervisor, watched Sullivan act out a rape-murder fantasy on Grace that they both shared. Packer and Sullivan “conspired to beat, rape, poison and ultimately strangle the teen,” the Bucks County District Attorney stated in a press release from 2017.
After Sullivan raped Grace, Sara Packer gave her drugs to minimize her pain before leaving her bound and gagged in the attic to die. Returning the next day and finding Grace was still alive, Sullivan strangled her, court documents said. The couple stored her body in cat litter for months, then hacked it up and dumped it in a remote area where hunters found it in October 2016, police have said.
Meanwhile, just days after the murder, Sara Packer claimed that her daughter must have run away.
Grace’s death raised questions about whether child welfare agencies could have done more to protect her. Sara Packer and her former husband, David Packer, had cared for dozens of foster children before David was arrested in 2010 and sent to prison for sexually assaulting Grace and a 15-year-old foster daughter at their home in Allentown, about an hour north of Philadelphia. Sara lost her job as a Northampton County adoptions supervisor in 2010 and was barred from taking in any more foster children.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services launched an investigation after Grace Packer’s murder but its findings have not been made public.
Grace lived with Sara Packer since she was 3.
Sullivan’s attorney previously claimed that Sara Packer masterminded the killing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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