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State: No need for new Heidt trial

POSTED: February 9, 2012 6:06 p.m.

Prosecutors have filed their brief in the wake of December’s hearing on a new trial motion for Craig Heidt and said none of the defense’s assertions stand up.

In the brief filed Jan. 30, Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Michael Muldrew argued that Heidt “should not be granted” a new trial since the state did not violate any of the guidelines set down by the Brady vs. Maryland decision.

Craig Heidt was convicted in December 2010 for the shotgun slayings of his father Phillip Heidt and his brother Carey Heidt. He was sentenced to life plus 80 years for the murders.

In order for the defense’s argument to hold sway, prosecutors contended that the defense did not show the state possessed evidence favorable to the defendant. Muldrew also said the defense’s claim that the defendant did not possess the evidence nor could have obtained it himself with any reasonable diligence was not an issue and also said the prosecution did not suppress any favorable evidence.

The defense also claimed that had the evidence been disclosed, a reasonable probability exists and that the outcome of the trial would have been different.

“The defendant’s claim of a Brady violation fails on all four criteria,” Muldrew said in his brief, “and in truth, one cannot even reach the first step of a Brady analysis.”

The evidence in question was a Remington 870 shotgun that was given to a family friend to be repaired. Prosecutors said a shotgun that fires shells consistent with those used in a Remington 870 was the murder weapon, though the gun in question was never found.

The shotgun, once owned by Carey Heidt, was turned over to the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office in December 2010 as the trial was being held.

“The fact that the deceased possessed a 12 gauge shotgun is irrelevant,” Muldrew said, “unless that shotgun can be tied or connected to the murders. It is impossible to connect Carey Heidt’s 12 gauge shotgun to the crimes at issue. The fact the victim possessed a common firearm capable of firing the same type of shells used in the murders does not make his shotgun relevant.

“The gun is no more relevant today than it was Dec. 8, 2010, when the defense attorney was told of the gun being turned over to the sheriff’s department and chose not to act on the existence of an irrelevant object.”

Muldrew further stated that no test can be conducted on the shotgun in question since the killer picked up the shell casings at the crime scene.

Prosecutors also said the death of John Henry Rast, brother-in-law to the Heidts, by suicide prior to the trial “does not make it relevant.”

Of the defense’s claim for a new trial, “it fails most spectacularly with regard to the third criteria, that the prosecution suppressed evidence,” Muldrew said. “The unrebutted and unimpeached testimony of the sheriff shows the defense attorney was told of the gun at the same time the prosecution learned of the gun being brought to the sheriff’s department.”

That gun also was one of five given to Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie for safekeeping and eventually returned to the family.

Muldrew said the shotgun’s existence doesn’t take away from “the evidence that showed the defendant was having an affair with his brother’s wife, that he had become enraged when told of how his father and brother treated Robin Heidt, that he was the only person with a motive and without and alibi, that he was only one of a handful of people to know of the outside key, that he claimed to have a shotgun and boots missing, that he bore bruises consistent with firing a shotgun and that the defendant lied about every material aspect of the case.”

The state also said the trial court did not err when denying the defense’s motion for a change of venue nor did it err in granting the prosecution to disqualify attorney Manubir Arora from the case.

Defense attorney Dow Bonds has until Feb. 17 to file his response to the prosecution’s brief before Judge Gates Peed rules on the matter.

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