News and Tribune

October 15, 2013

Murder trial begins in Clark County

Man stabbed to death during an alleged drug deal


JEFFERSONVILLE — The trial of a man accused of murder believed to have occurred during a $40 drug deal began Tuesday.

Opening arguments were heard in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 in the murder case against James L. Washington, 36,  who is charged with stabbing 55-year-old Robert Eader to death.

A jury was seated earlier in the day Tuesday, and opening arguments began early Tuesday evening.

Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull laid out the argument in his opening statement that Washington went to Eader’s home in the early-morning hours on Dec. 3, 2012 to collect money for cocaine.

“The defendant went to Robert Eader’s home because [Washington] wanted to collect some money he felt he was owed,” Mull said after opening arguments. “When Robert Eider refused to pay him, he tried to take the money physically, and when Robert Eider resisted, Washington then slit his throat and stabbed him in the heart.”

A 911 call was made to police by a neighbor who heard a struggle and Eader calling for help.

When police arrived at Eader’s apartment, above The Locker Room screen printing business in the 300 block of Spring Street, at about 4:30 a.m., Eader was found dead from the stab wounds.

Washington’s attorney, Stephen Beardsley, presented a different scenario when it was his chance to make his opening statement. Beardsley admitted his client and Eader were involved in a drug deal, but said a fight that broke out between Washington and Eader resulted in Eader’s death.

Beardsley said the two, and Dana R. Eisenback, 26, were using drugs together Dec. 2 and when Eisenback and Washington left, Eader asked them to return with more drugs later that evening.

“James just found a totally different situation when he got back there,” Beardsley said.

He said Washington and Eader traded punches, and during the fight Eader reached for his pocket, at which point Washington stabbed Eader.

Washington and Eisenback subsequently fled and began to drive to Poplar Bluff, Mo., where Eisenback lived. Eisenback was reportedly in Jeffersonville to visit family and had become involved with Washington, with whom she shares a child.

However, the pair turned themselves in after returning from Missouri when police located the car at Thorton’s gas station at 10th Street and Allison Lane.

Beardsley pointed to his client’s return to Jeffersonville and being cooperative with police as mitigating factors in the case.

Both Washington and Eisenback were initially charged with murder and an additional robbery charge. Murder charges were later dropped against Eisenback.

“As we progressed with that investigation we became convinced that she did not ever have an intent to murder Mr. Eader,” Mull said.

The charges against Eisenback were amended to dealing in cocaine or narcotic drug and aiding in the commission of armed robbery resulting in bodily injury, both class B felonies, according to Clark County court records. She is scheduled to go on trial Nov. 5.

Mull explained Eisenback and Washington will not be tried together because of the different charges filed against each person. Eisenback would also not be called as a witness in the case, because of the pending drug charge filed against her she would invoke her Fifth Amendment rights not to incriminate herself if she was forced to testify.

The prosecution is set to begin presenting its case Wednesday morning.