On Thursday, November 10, 2016, jurors in the 410th District Court of Montgomery County, Texas  (Judge Carolyn Johnson presiding) found Defendant Joel Eric Holder, 45, guilty of Murder and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. In a sentencing hearing held Thursday, November 10, 2016, Judge Carolyn Johnson sentenced him to Life in prison on the Murder count and 20 years in prison on the Aggravated Assault count. 

At trial, Assistant District Attorneys Donna Berkey and Laura Bond presented evidence that on March 28, 2015, Holder dropped his estranged girlfriend off at a residence in Splendora, and then remained on the property despite requests by the homeowner to leave. At approximately 9:45 a.m., while backing out of the drive way, Holder suddenly drove his truck at James Kiernan and Aaron Lord, causing each to suffer serious bodily injuries. Holder then exited his truck with a tire tool and struck a defenseless Kiernan multiple times as he lay on the ground. Testimony from medical experts revealed that Kiernan died from multiple blunt force injuries. After approximately three hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Holder on two of the three counts submitted, acquitting him on one Aggravated Assault charge. 

Judge Johnson considered testimony during the punishment phase of trial from both Holder’s mother, and members of James Kiernan’s family before rendering her verdict assessing his punishment on the murder case at life in prison. 

Chief Prosecutor Donna Berkey: “We commend the jury and judge’s hard work in reaching this decision, and this case once again underscores that Montgomery County simply does not tolerate tragic attacks on two of its innocent citizens.”