Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Woman freed after murder retrial

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — On Monday, Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia Summe wished good luck to Alexander “Sandra” Eades, who was convicted of murdering her brother-in-law five years ago, and let her walk free.

        For Ms. Eades' relatives, the announcement brought hugs and smiles. For the relatives of Ernie Springer, who was fatally shot while sleeping in his Ludlow home on May 21, 1995, there were bitter tears.

        “This has got to be a nightmare,” said Patty Ackman, Mr. Springer's sister, who began crying the instant she began talking. “You can kill somebody in Kentucky and get by with it. She gets to hold her kid, but we don't get to touch our brother. It doesn't make sense.”

        She's hoping for a different outcome when Ms. Eades' sister, Kimberly Springer, is retried in July.

        “Somewhere there's got to be justice,” Mrs. Ackman, of Petersburg, said.

        Ms. Eades, 34, of Detroit, and her sister, Mrs. Springer, 36, of Ludlow, confessed to killing Mr. Springer, 44. On the day of his death, they told police they had been drinking heavily, plus popping Valium and diet pills, when Ms. Eades shot Mr. Springer and her sister helped. Their motive, they said, was that Mr. Springer had been abusing his wife and insulting her family.

        At their 1996 trial, they repeated their testimony about drinking heavily but, this time around, said Mrs. Springer pulled the trigger. She testified that Mr. Springer had abused her on many occasions and, on the night of the murder, had threatened to sexually assault her teen-age daughter, who was living in Virginia at the time.

        Jurors then gave more credence to the first confessions, convicting Ms. Eades of murdering Mr. Springer. Mrs. Springer was convicted of complicity, or helping, in the crime.

        The two women were serving 30-year sentences when the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned their convictions and ordered new trials. Justices said the sisters' attorneys had not received a fair number of opportunities to remove potential jurors.

        Last week, Ms. Eades' second trial concluded with jurors finding her guilty only of criminal facilitation to commit murder — or rather, knowing that Mrs. Springer planned to kill her husband and doing nothing about it.

        The crime was punishable by up to five years. Judge Summe gave her that sentence but agreed that she already had served that time.

        Ms. Eades could not stop smiling in the courtroom. Meanwhile, public defender Mary Rafizadeh, who represented Mrs. Springer in 1996, mouthed the word “awesome.”

        She thinks Ms. Eades was wrongly convicted the first time.

        Ms. Eades' 13-year-old daughter, Kimberly, couldn't stop smiling either. Named after her aunt, she has been exchanging letters with her mother and visiting her once a week since Ms. Eades was transferred to the Kenton County Jail about eight months ago.

        When the jury returned its verdict last week, the girl told her foster parents, Glena and James Millerof Florence, that “it's going to be a long weekend.”

        She has started packing, eager to move in with her mother.

        “She just wants to be with her mom,” Mrs. Miller said.

        Ms. Eades wasn't released from jail until about 4 p.m. Monday. When her mother walked outside, Kimberly quickly shepherded her into a waiting vehicle. Both refused comment, but Ms. Eades was holding her daughter and rubbing her back as the car drove away.

        Public defender Rodney Barnes has said Ms. Eades plans to find a job and settle in Northern Kentucky. Her relatives still live in the area.


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