Macomb Twp. Stabbing-Turned-Murder Trial Begins in Circuit Court
Joseph T. Reiner, 28, will be tried in circuit court on charges of first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and home invasion stemming from the Feb. 23, 2011 attack on Macomb Township resident Joann Eisenhardt, 69.
Nineteen months after a Macomb Township woman was stabbed in her Fairchild Road home, the trial of her alleged murderer has begun.
Fraser resident Joseph T. Reiner, 28, is charged with first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and home invasion stemming from the Feb. 23, 2011 attack on 69-year-old Joann Eisenhardt.
Eisenhardt, who was stabbed in the neck with two kitchen knives during the February attack, died Sept. 20, 2011 from what Macomb County Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz determined to be complications related to the original injuries.
Reiner is accused of breaking into Eisenhardt's home, stabbing her and stealing several pieces of jewelry, which police later traced to an Eastpointe pawn shop owned by Hadrian Lewandowski. Lewandowski, who was considered a key witness by prosecutors, died in May 2011 of a heart attack.
Despite objections from Reiner's attorney, Timothy Barkovic, Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Peter Maceroni ruled Wednesday that statements Lewandowski made to police following the attack would be allowed during the trial, according to court documents.
Maceroni also ruled that the prosecution, lead by Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor William Cataldo, would be allowed to "introduce evidence of prior similiar acts," which include a break-in in Grosse Pointe that occurred after the Macomb Township attack and an earlier, unrelated Harrison Township home invasion that Reiner committed while on parole.
It was during the Grosse Pointe break-in that Reiner allegedly stole the car that he later used to lead New Jersey and New York police on an almost 100-mile car chase that ended on the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Maceroni also ruled to allow two witnesses to identify Reiner on the stand. The prosecution is relying on these witnesses, which include one of the victim's neighbors, in being able to place Reiner in the area at the time of the attack.
Jury selection was slated to start Wednesday afternoon. The trial is expected to last a week.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Reiner has requested he be allowed to cover the devil horns tatooed on his forehead with make-up prior to his next court appearance.