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Devil-Horned Defendant Gets Life for Murder of Macomb Grandmother

Judge says, "I believe in the death penalty only for animals. You fit that category," to Joseph T. Reiner, 29, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of JoAnn Eisenhardt.

A 29-year-old Fraser man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the brutal stabbing and murder of a Macomb Township woman. 

Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Peter J. Maceroni sentenced Joseph T. Reiner to life in prison without parole and ordered him to pay more than $8,000 in court costs and restitution to the victim's family. 

Reiner was found guilty Sept. 14 of first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and home invasion related to the stabbing and subsequent death of 69-year-old JoAnn Eisenhardt on .

“To feed your (heroin) habit, I am convinced you did these crimes, as were the 12 people who sat behind you,” said Maceroni. “People ask me as a judge, 'Do you believe in the death penalty?' And my response is, ‘I believe in the death penalty only for animals.’ You fit that category.”

Howard Eisenhardt, the victim's eldest son, asked Maceroni to "throw the book" at repeat offenders like Reiner.

“What bothers me the most is you, you little coward, took my mom’s future,” he said, looking directly at Reiner. “The future she had with all the grandkids and great-grandkids and some that are still coming. We will always search for closure, but we will never ever understand how something so simple, so caring, so easy-going, so laidback can cross the path with something so ugly and evil, like you.”

Unlike previous court appearances, Reiner chose not to cover his jailhouse tattoo – a pair of devil horns on his forehead – for the sentencing.

Speaking for the first time since his arrest, Reiner told the courtroom, "I'm not the one who did this," but added that he does knew the identity of the real murderer although he refuses to give the name to police.

"I'm going to track him," he said. "I’m going to follow him everywhere through the system. You guys can't possibly give me any more time than I’m going to get today, because I’m getting natural life, so I hope I can bring retribution not just for myself, but for the family and for JoAnn Eisenhardt and her spirit."

Howard Eisenhardt said he wasn't surprised by Reiner's profession of innocence, but didn't believe a word of it.

For Howard, his brothers Jim and Joe, and more than a dozen friends and family who have been present in the courtroom since Reiner was first charged, the sentencing was "the first big step in closure" and a chance to step off the "emotional roller coaster" the family has been on since the attack.

"Our lives will forever be shattered," said Howard Eisenhardt, reading from the family's victim impact statement. "Both my brothers and myself will forever have an overwhelming sense of guilt that we weren’t there when you came running through the front door to protect our mom."

On the morning Feb. 23, 2011, Reiner kicked in the door of Eisenhardt's Fairchild Road home, stabbed her in the neck with two steak knives and fled with $2 worth of stolen jewelry.

Hitching a ride with one of Eisenhardt's neighbors, Reiner eventually made his way to Grosse Pointe Farms, where he broke into two more homes and stole a car he later used to lead police on an almost 100-mile car chase through New Jersey, Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo told the jury during the trial.

Eisenhardt died nearly seven months later from what Macomb County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz testified as complications from injuries inflicted during the attack.

She was a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, Sunday school teacher, Red Hat lady and 20-year breast cancer survivor.

"Our mom will always be surrounded by angels and she continues that today," Howard Eisenhardt said.

Read Patch's coverage of this case from Reiner's initial arrest to his conviction in circuit court.

Robert Boyles November 15, 2012 at 05:29 PM
This animal got off easy. Now he has a roof over his head, 3 meals a day, and ""play time" all at the expense of our public tax dollars. I am a firm believer in reinstating the death sentence in Michigan and this beast would be right at the beginning of my line for first class service. Death with a smile. "Well what if he really didn't do it?" I tell right now, that if as he says he is innocent but was there and knows who the "real" killer is, then he is still just as guilty of the charges. Just because he "may" not have pulled the trigger, it was because of his actions that the murder occurred. I am not a raving madman that just wants to be heard, but just a normal person in our county who is fed up with protecting the rights of the guilty, and giving them a sentence that will allow them to live better than they would on the streets, not that they deserve to be on the streets. If you believe our GOD is the only one that can give and take lives, than please, tonight when you go to bed, pray like myself that the good Lord will strike him down before his next meal! BB of New Baltimore
The Commissioner November 16, 2012 at 12:09 AM
I followed this WHOLE trial from start to finish very carefully and I truly believe Mr. Reiner to be innocent. The prosecution established a time line that showed Mr. Reiner could not possibly have commited this crime. The judge did something that is not only illegal but has never been done before HE ALLOWED A STATEMENT MADE BY A DEAD PERSON TO BE HEARD BY THE JURY. You have the right to question your accusers and Mr. Reiner was denied this right. This is gross negligence on the part of the Judge. Had the judge followed proper procedure and not allowed the statement to be heard Mr. Reiner would have been found not guilty. I hope and pray he gets back on appeal, to throw an innocent young man away for the rest of his life should be a capital offense. If and when Mr. Reiner gets back on appeal and is found not guilty, who will hold the judge responsible for his mistake? Who will repay Mr. Reiner for the loss of the most precious thing a human being has, TIME. This is America and one of the principals this country was found on is that when charged with a crime you have the RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL. Mr. Reiner was denied that right. It's a shame that the media has continued to comment on his tattoo's, it's 2012 and many people have tattoo's, it is wrong to judge a person for the art they put on their body. If any of the 12 that had a part in imprisoning and innocent man for the rest of his life are reading this I hope that what you've done haunts you for the rest of your life....
THUNDERDOG November 16, 2012 at 03:51 AM
He's a Animal.
Um Yeah December 01, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Seriously, Commissioner? What shall we do? Call the Long Island Medium in to contact the deceased so this animal can question her? It's not a shame to comment on his tattoos. Yes, LOTS of people have tattoos. But not so many have devil horns on their foreheads. This is not a person that makes good choices, based on that alone.

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