The man charged with raping, killing, and dismembering 14-year-old Grace Packer as part of a "rape-murder" fantasy could face the death penalty.
Jacob Patrick Sullivan, 44, waived his arraignment Friday, but Matthew D. Weintraub, the Bucks County district attorney, said he filed notice earlier this week reserving the right to pursue "the ultimate penalty" if Sullivan is convicted.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in late March 2018 and last about a month.
Sullivan, 44, is charged with rape, kidnapping, homicide, abuse of a corpse, and related offenses. He and Grace Packer's adoptive mother, Sara Packer, are accused of conspiring for months to kill her.
Sara Packer pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in early March.
Prosecutors will seek to combine Sullivan's and Packer's cases in pre-trial motions, which are scheduled for hearings in November.
"I feel like the path to justice has been clarified," Weintraub said. "Our mission is to get justice for Grace, and we'll do that in March of next year."
The Bucks County Public Defender's Office is representing Sullivan. According to its policy, attorneys in the office do not comment on ongoing cases, an employee said Friday.
According to a criminal complaint, as Packer watched, Sullivan raped the girl in July in the attic of a Quakertown home that he and Packer rented. Sullivan and Sara Packer then gave Grace pills, tied her up, and left her in the attic to die. When the pair came back after a day to find Grace still alive, Sullivan allegedly suffocated her with an arm around her neck.
Sara Packer reported Grace missing two days later, on July 11.
Sullivan and Packer left the girl's body in cat litter until mid-October, when police came to the home as part of their investigation, according to police. The pair then dismembered Grace in a bathtub and dumped her remains in the woods of Luzerne County, Pa. The remains were found on Oct. 31.
Police linked Sara Packer to a bow saw she had bought.