March 2008 Executions

One killer was given a stay in March 2008. He has murdered at least 4 people.
One killer died on death row while awaiting execution in March 2008. He had murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 6, 2008 Pennsylvania Jennifer Louise Still, 20
Heather Greaves, 28
Lisa Greaves, 21
Avery Johnson, 3
John Eichinger stayed
Jennifer Still Heather Greaves Lisa Greaves Avery Johnson
Jennifer Still Heather Greaves Lisa Greaves

Avery Johnson

On the morning of March 25, 2005 John Charles Eichinger drove to the Greaves’ residence. Eichinger told police that he intended to kill Heather Greaves unless she ended her relationship with her most recent boyfriend. To this end, Eichinger arranged to meet with Heather so that she would be expecting him at her house that day. Eichinger worked with Heather Greaves at an Acme market in King of Prussia, Pa., before being transferred to a store near his home. Heather Greaves had told a neighbor she was expecting Eichinger to visit with flowers for her upcoming birthday, but considered him only a friend and did not want the kind of romantic relationship he sought, a police affidavit said. Eichinger carried a large knife and a pair of rubber gloves in his waistband and concealed them under his sweat jacket. Eichinger went into the house to speak with Heather. An argument ensued and Eichinger pulled out the knife and stabbed her repeatedly in the stomach. Eichinger admitted that he purposefully stabbed Heather in the stomach, because he "had heard in movies and books that it was easier to puncture organs there than through the chest, where it is more difficult because of hitting bone.” Avery, Heather’s three-year-old daughter, was in the room and witnessed the stabbing. When Heather cried to Avery to call 911, Eichinger turned away from Heather and slashed Avery in the neck. Avery ran down the hallway before she fell. Eichinger followed her and came upon Lisa, Heather’s sister coming out of the bathroom. Eichinger confessed to police, “I had to stab Lisa, too. I couldn’t go to jail.” Lisa tried to run back into the bathroom and shut the door, but Eichinger was able to overpower her. He stabbed Lisa repeatedly in the stomach. Eichinger moved back towards the kitchen where Heather was dying, but not before he stabbed Avery once more, in the back. He stabbed her with such force that the blade came out her chest, and pinned her to the floor. Eichinger admitted to police that, “I couldn’t even let the three-year old identify me. I had known her since she was born and she knew my name. She could speak my name.” Back in the kitchen, Eichinger stabbed Heather in the diaphragm and slit her throat. Eichinger went to the sink to wash his hands and noticed he was cut. He used one of the rubber gloves to prevent his blood from being left at the crime scene. Before leaving, Eichinger cut open Lisa’s shirt to make it appear that she had been the target of the rampage in order to confuse the police. Heather and Lisa’s father discovered the murders later that day. The police spoke to a neighbor who had witnessed Eichinger leaving the Greaves’ home that morning. Upon receiving this information, Detective Richard Nilsen, a Montgomery County Detective, along with Detective James Godby of the Upper Merion Police Department, went to the Somers Point, New Jersey Acme Food Market where Eichinger was employed. Eichinger agreed to be interviewed. After some discussion, and a false statement to the police, Eichinger confessed to the Greaves murders. During the same conversation, Eichinger also confessed that he used the knife from the Greaves’ murders to kill another woman, Jennifer Still, on July 6, 1999. Eichinger admitted to police that he killed Jennifer because she rejected him in order to stay with her fiancÚ. Eichinger described this murder: I had the knife in my hand. I turned away from her for a second and couldn’t believe she was doing that to me. She got real close to me. I thought, ‘You’re ripping my heart out and now you’re getting close to me.’ She put her hand on my shoulder. I turned around and stabbed her in the stomach. After I stabbed her the first time, she stepped back, but didn’t fall. Her blood splattered out at me. I lunged at her. I just kept stabbing her. I slit her throat as she slid down the wall. I let her body weight cut her throat against the knife. Eichinger saved his clothes from that day, and collected articles about the murder to serve as reminders. After using the knife to kill Jennifer in 1999, he stored it in a sheath in a cooler. Eichinger told police, “I had it in the cooler with the rubber gloves and the Scream mask. Every Halloween I put the mask, gloves, and knife on and handed out candy at the door.” As a result of his confessions, Eichinger was arrested and later transported back to Montgomery County. In transit, Eichinger made another incriminating statement describing the triple-homicide as well as the earlier murder of Jennifer Still to the police. This statement was later memorialized in writing. Eichinger filed an omnibus pre-trial motion seeking to suppress his statements to the police. This motion was denied. Eichinger and Detective Nilsen then testified at a pre-trial hearing on September 15, 2005. The trial judge found Detective Nilsen’s testimony to be credible and found that all of the statements made by Eichinger to the police were admissible at trial. Eichinger waived his right to a jury in favor of a guilt-phase bench trial which was held on October 18, 2005. Eichinger did not contest the charges against him and offered no defense, rather he stipulated to the evidence offered by the Commonwealth at the September 15th Pre-Trial Hearing. Eichinger was adjudicated guilty of all charges, and the Commonwealth sought the penalty of death for the murders of Heather Greaves, Lisa Greaves and Avery Johnson. The sentencing phase was tried before a jury beginning on November 1, 2005. Although he did not contest his guilt, Eichinger did contest the imposition of the death penalty. The jury found two aggravating factors in the death of Heather Greaves: that Eichinger had been convicted of another state offense for which a sentence of life imprisonment is imposable and that Eichinger had been convicted of another murder which was committed before or at the time of the offense at issue. The first aggravating factor related to the murder of Jennifer Still six years earlier. The second related to the murder of Lisa Greaves and Avery Johnson which was contemporaneous with the murder of Heather Greaves. The jury then found the same two aggravators for the murder of Lisa Greaves plus a third aggravating factor, that the victim was a witness to a murder and was killed to prevent her testimony in any criminal proceeding concerning the offense. The jury also found the same three aggravating factors they found for Lisa Greaves for the murder of Avery Johnson, plus a fourth aggravating factor, that Avery Johnson was a child less than twelve years of age. The jury determined that there was one mitigating factor for each of these three murders, namely that Eichinger was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance. Finding that the weight of the aggravating factors was greater than the weight of the mitigating factor in each case, the jury returned a verdict of death for the murders of Heather, Lisa and Avery. District Attorney Bruce Castor said Jennifer Still and the Greaves were part of a wide circle of friends, and during the investigation, detectives realized that they were talking to the same people they talked to when Still was killed. In 1999, Still’s mother told a local TV news station that her daughter had been involved in a circle of friends who practiced Wicca. Castor said that the Greaves sisters, Still and Eichinger were involved in the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. The families of Eichinger’s victims were allowed to confront the killer before he was sentenced to death. "In my assessment of this horrendous tragedy perpetrated by John Charles Eichinger, there is no justice that can satisfy me short of his termination and no restoration that can replace what was lost," said George Greaves, whose daughters, Lisa and Heather, and granddaughter, Avery Johnson, were stabbed to death by Eichinger on Good Friday. Unfortunately, Greaves said, Eichinger is more likely to remain behind bars for many years before the death sentence is actually carried out. "However, I do look forward to the justice promised by the Lord Almighty where the wicked and evil emissaries of Satan such as John Charles Eichinger will receive payment for their acts with eternal, unrelenting torment in hell," Greaves added. Wendy Lavin, whose 20-year-old daughter, Jennifer Louise Still, was stabbed to death by Eichinger, in 1999, said Eichinger should never be allowed to live in society again. "He deserves the death penalty. No amount of time spent in prison could ever make up for the agony and suffering he caused Jennifer. He is a violent man who has no regard for life and no respect for the law," said Lavin, of Mont Clare, the co-founder of the Montgomery County Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. Montgomery County Judge William R. Carpenter imposed three consecutive death sentences and a life prison sentence on Eichinger for the four killings. The judge also sentenced Eichinger to a consecutive, maximum possible sentence of eight to 16 years in prison on charges of possessing an instrument of crime and lying to authorities. The consecutive jail time will make it more difficult for a future governor to ever commute Eichinger’s death sentences. "You took the lives of four innocent persons for no reason. You are, simply stated, an evil person," Carpenter told Eichinger, who showed no reaction as he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs by sheriff’s deputies, headed to death row. Eichinger, who at the time was 33-year-old former supermarket employee from Somers Point, N.J., did not address the judge or the families of the murdered women when offered the chance to speak before his punishment was imposed. Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Flannery, who assisted Castor with the prosecution, asked the judge to impose the maximum possible sentence against Eichinger because "he is so purely evil that there is no doubt he deserves to die" and to serve justice to the dead and their families. "It’s important to show how seriously we take these crimes, that they are so heinous, so brutal," said Flannery, referring to the need for the maximum sentence. Eichinger, who was represented by defense lawyer William McElroy, stared blankly and did not react when relatives of the dead women angrily lashed out at him in court, forcing him to look at photographs of the three women and Avery during happier times. "How could you kill little Avery, John?" Meredith Gardner Moffatt, a friend to the Greaves sisters, confronted Eichinger. "Was it because she could speak your name? You are a baby-killer and by anyone’s definition, a baby-killer is the lowest of the low. In hell, John, there is no mercy from God forever!" Several friends of the victims, weeping uncontrollably, called Eichinger "a monster." Friends described Lisa as "a feisty princess" and a "strong-minded individual with a big heart" who was studying to be a registered nurse. Heather, friends testified, "always had a smile and a pleasant demeanor and a great sense of humor." George Greaves, whose nightmare began when he returned to his Kingwood Road home after work and found the blood-covered bodies of his two daughters and granddaughter, testified he will miss "those little hugs of love" he received daily from Avery. Greaves said he agonizes about the day when he will have to explain to Avery’s half-sister, 6-year-old Melody, what happened to Heather and Avery. "As she gets older the day yet awaits when I will have to reveal to her the true horrific details of the deaths of her mother, her aunt and her sister," said Greaves, his voice quivering with emotion. "It will be another day of many tears for both of us." Saying she agonized for six years before finding out who murdered her only child, Lavin described Jennifer as a "loving, caring, kind and considerate person" who loved musicals and poetry. "My daughter was a very bright, independent young woman. We will never know what she could have made of her life. She was robbed of that opportunity, her life cut cruelly short," Lavin told the judge.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
March 23, 2008 Florida Joyce Marlow Burley Gilliam died on death row
Joyce Marlowe was last seen alive on the evening of 06/08/82, in the company of Burley Gilliam, Jr. Marlowe was a dancer at a strip club where Gilliam went that evening, and she later left the club with him. On the evening of 06/08/82, Sandy Burroughs was fishing on Twin Lakes when he heard a woman screaming. When he went to investigate the commotion, Burroughs found Gilliam’s truck stuck in the sand, and a “very, very nervous” Gilliam, who kept saying, “I got to get out of here.” Gilliam’s truck did not start after being extracted from the sand, so it was towed to a nearby garage for repairs. The next day, Burroughs noticed that the lake area where he had found Gilliam was roped off, and when he inquired as to why, police told him that a woman had been raped and murdered there. Gilliam told police that he and Marlowe were swimming in the lake, when he had accidentally dunked Marlowe under the water for too long, drowning her. Gilliam also claimed to have unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate Marlowe. At trial, Gilliam employed an insanity defense, arguing that he committed the rape and murder during an epileptic seizure. In an effort to substantiate the claim, several of Gilliam’s family members testified to what they believed to be a history of seizures by Gilliam. Further, a doctor testified that Gilliam’s seizures left him unable to understand the nature and consequences of his actions at the lake, and Gilliam testified that he had no recollection of the events at the lake. During Gilliam’s original trial, he dismissed appointed counsel and was eventually allowed to proceed pro se, with the assistance of standby counsel.

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