27 November 2023- Following years of legal maneuvering, News Talk 1037FM has learned that the man who was convicted of the murder of a High’s Dairy manager in Blue Ridge Summit will now be eligible for release in just under 12 years. Clayton W. Faxon, Jr. pleaded guilty in 1995 to both felony homicide and felony robbery after the shooting death of Gretchen Groff at the High’s Dairy on December 20th, 1994.
The biggest issue with the sentencing of Faxon was his age at the time of the incident as well as when he pleaded guilty. At the time of the robbery and murder, Faxon was only 16. While Faxon was listed as the “accomplice” to the murder and robbery, he was sentenced to life in prison due to the fact he was the one to kill Groff. Faxon’s co-robber, Jeremiah Reynolds, was given 20 years for numerous crimes including murder and robbery.
Within the last 10-15 years, the ability of judges to sentence then-juvenile offenders to life in prison without the possibility of parole has been severely challenged. In 2012, the high court narrowly ruled in Miller V. Alabama that juvenile offenders could not be sentenced to life in prison due to it being cruel or unusual punishment. That held true, in all but what they deemed cases of “permanent incorrigibility”, or when someone cannot (by the opinion of the court and court experts) be rehabilitated. This all changed again, however, with the judgement of Jones V. Mississippi in 2021. That case found that judges can, in fact, sentence someone who was a juvenile at the time of a crime being committed to life in prison without parole.
Faxon has had a series of appeals dating all the way back from his initial judgement in 1995. These escalated in 2013, after the initial Miller V. Alabama ruling. He was re-sentenced again today, November 27th.
Clayton Faxon, Jr., according to court records, shall be imprisoned in a state correctional institute for a period of not less that 40 years to life. Given credit for time served, Faxon will be eligible for release as soon as October 4th, 2035. He will, however, have to satisfy a number of conditions prior to a release, however.
Special conditions for Faxon’s release are listed as “any program prison/probation officials deem necessary”, DNA testing, anger management treatment, and having passed a mental health evaluation or continuous treatment. Additionally, Faxon, if he satisfies all of these conditions enough for the parole board, shall not have any contact with the family of the woman he murdered, Gretchen Groff.
As of publication, Faxon is in custody at the Franklin County Jail due to his court appearance today. He was previously held at SCI Laurel Highlands, but his next incarceration location has not been made clear.