GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — The family of Lisa Holstead, what was Green Bay's oldest unsolved murder case is speaking out after her convicted killer is sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The 22-year-old single mother was found raped and strangled back in 1986. On Monday, 67-year-old, Lou Archie Griffin was sentenced to the maximum of 10 years in prison for the charge of homicide by reckless conduct.
The case ended with what the Brown County District Attorney called a "compromised outcome." But the complicated case ruled what the family calls a "gross injustice."
Here is a timeline of Lisa Holstead's case:
- August 12th, 1986, 22-year-old Lisa Holstead's partially clothed body was discovered in a marshy area in the northwest side of Green Bay. However, without enough evidence, her murder went unsolved for 34 years.
- In 2019, Detective, David Graf with the Green Bay Police Department used DNA evidence found on Lisa's body and used investigative genetic genealogy to track down a suspect.
- In October 2020, Lou Archie Griffin was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
- January 2023, Griffin's attorney pleaded down to a lesser charge of homicide by reckless conduct, a class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
- March 27, 2023, 67-year-old Griffin is sentenced to 10 years in prison, the maximum penalty available under the law in 1986. Under the old sentencing law, Griffin can be released after serving two-thirds of his sentence. He was also granted 2.5 years of time served which means he could be released in 4.5 years and is eligible for parole in less than 6 months.
In court on Monday, not only did Lisa's family have to face the man who is convicted of ending her life, but six members of her family took the stand to deliver impact statements to the courtroom. And, after 37 years of waiting for justice, the family learned Griffin will likely only serve a handful of years behind bars.
"I miss you Lisa, and I'm sorry you are getting the injustice you are getting today," said Lisa's sister, Susan Holstead as she took the stand in court to address Lou Archie Griffin as he sat, wearing an orange jumpsuit, while sitting in a wheelchair in the courtroom.
In the courtroom, Lisa Holstead's family found closure but not justice.
"I do have some closer," Jeremy Holstead tells NBC 26 in an exclusive interview. "I'm happy the court process is done and we do have a name and face for the person who murdered my mother." Jeremy was only 5 years old when his mother was murdered.
"For us being in 2023 and having to bounce back to 1986 laws where he's going 10 years. It's revolving. It is disgusting," Susan Holstead tells NBC 26.
67-year-old Griffin was sentenced for a charge of homicide by reckless conduct. Under the United States Constitution, a person has the right to be tried and sentenced in accordance with the laws at the time they committed the offense.
In this case, it was 1986. If convicted today of the same crime, Griffin would have served a maximum of 40 years.
Due to the case being pleaded down to the lesser charge before it went to trial, Griffin's maximum in prison is only 10 years.
"If he wanted 1986 sentencing he should have turned himself in, in 1986," says the victim's son, Jeremy. "If you get caught in 2023 you serve your 2023 time."
Brown County District Attorney, David Lasee says because of the decades that Lisa's case went cold and hearsay testimony that was admissible in court accusing another man of the crime, instead of first or even second-degree murder charges against Griffin, Lasee says to bring justice to the Holtead family, he needed to secure a conviction.
"We needed to secure a conviction, we needed to make sure that Mr. Griffin was held accountable for his actions in this case, and as a result, we had to come to a compromise on this case in terms of the nature of the charges," Brown County District Attorney, David Lasee.
Lasee calls it a "compromised outcome."
"At the end of the day, there is accountability. We know who killed Lisa. That person has taken responsibility, legally for his actions. He's sentenced for having killed her. He's labeled a murderer," adds Lasee.
Lisa's family calls it an injustice.
"His sentencing is done already, nothing is going to change that. but I mean we're not the only cold case out there," says Jeremy Holstead.
37 years after her death, Lisa's family continues to honor her memory and will continue to fight for justice in other cold cases.
Jeremy Holstead says amending the Constitution that follows old sentencing laws in homicide cases is the only way to make sure no other family goes through the same outrage they faced the last 2.5 years in court.
"I know the law is the law but laws change all the time so why not change this one?" says Jeremy.
"I'll fight as long as I can to get that law changed and I know Jeremy will too.
The Holstead family says they know it will be a long process to get the constitutional law amended so other cold cases don't have to follow old sentencing laws but it's been 13,377 days since Lisa's death and they'll just keep counting until that day comes.