Court will allow as evidence events in accused killer’s past
Heinze murder trial set to begin Monday
SCHENECTADY Five days after he allegedly strangled Mary Jeoney for her tax refund, Richard Heinze Jr. was dating again.
He had met this woman the same way he’d met Jeoney, on the phone chat line Quest, the one that runs commercials on late-night television.
He would steal from her, too, prosecutors say. He told her his car needed repairs, his apartment burned, according to prosecutors.
But he had no car, and prosecutors say the basement where he lived did not burn, but it did have Jeoney’s body concealed in it.
Despite those accusations, the woman still put up money for Heinze’s defense, his attorney, Mark Gaylord, said at a hearing last week.
Gaylord asked prosecutor Phillip Mueller of the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office if he thought that was odd.
“It’s a pattern he’s established for 20 years now,” Mueller responded.
The hearing was to determine whether three dozen alleged “bad acts” by Heinze could be used at his murder trial, which is scheduled to begin on Monday.
Heinze faces trial on one count of first-degree murder and other charges in Jeoney’s killing.
The mother of a young son, Jeoney was missing for more than a month before her remains were finally found in Heinze‘s father’s garbage-strewn basement. She had met Heinze only months earlier.
According to the prosecution, her remains were found only after Heinze pointed them out, first attempting to pin the crime on his own father, and then admitting he himself did it but attempting to portray Jeoney as a drug user. Authorities said there is no evidence Jeoney ever used drugs.
Heinze Jr. killed her for her debit card, prosecutors alleged. The card had been recently credited with $2,000 in tax refund money that Heinze would use to purchase crack cocaine, authorities alleged.
At the pretrial hearing last week, Mueller offered a lengthy list of three dozen acts allegedly perpetrated over the years that prosecutors say go toward Heinze’s credibility should he take the stand.
The alleged acts spanned Heinze’s life, from his teenage years through multiple violent relationships with women, until the month after he allegedly strangled Jeoney, when he allegedly stole from the latest woman in his life, whom the prosecution says he brought into the basement where Jeoney’s body was hidden.
The hearing was to determine which, if any, could be brought up if Heinze took the stand in his own defense. Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye ruled more than half could be used.
Another hearing is set for Monday morning, when Hoye is expected to decide which incidents can be used by the prosecution on its own. Such incidents are often allowed at trials if they relate to past methods or familiarity with techniques.
In Heinze’s case, prosecutors allege they have several similar incident to draw upon, including violence against women and thefts from women.
Some of the allegations are supported by police reports. Others are the products of interviews with women Heinze had relationships with in the past but not resulting in police reports.
Heinze’s attorney, Gaylord, downplayed some of the accusations as inspired by motives other than the truth.
“I don’t think the statements from two strangled, angry girlfriends, who are probably owed a lot of child support from Mr. Heinze . . . is sufficient to allow the court to permit . . . the prosecution to cross-examine him about them,” Gaylord said.
Heinze does owe a lot of child support. Prosecutors say he has at least seven children by six women. Records showed last year they have gone without financial support from Heinze for a decade.
Heinze, who has been described as an unemployed roofer, is behind on his child support payments by more than $100,000, county records showed. That amount is 10 times the norm, according to state officials.
Prosecutors said he owes $40,000 to one woman alone.
Some of the women called police or had calls made on their behalf when faced with violence by Heinze.
He had been booked at the Schenectady County Jail 16 times before he was charged with Jeoney’s murder, records show. None of the prior cases rose to felonies.
Many of the alleged assaults and beatings occurred without reports to police, as the women were too scared to call, according to the prosecution.
In the case of one woman, Heinze allegedly frequently demanded money for drugs between 1995 and 1997. The first time she refused, he hit her, the prosecution alleges. After that, she was afraid to refuse, according to the prosecutor’s filing.
The prosecution also says that one time during that period, Heinze allegedly choked the woman into unconsciousness, squeezing her throat with one hand in front, and the other behind her neck. She awoke with him kicking her, the prosecution says.
Another woman, who dated Heinze between June 1999 and July 2001, reported beatings and choking.
He sometimes choked her until she passed out, she said. She warned him his actions would kill her one of these times, according to prosecutors.
“Defendant answered that, if he wanted her dead, she’d be dead,” Mueller wrote.
From that same woman he allegedly took about $3,000 in cash. He then beat her and warned her he would kill her if she went to police, according to prosecutors.
He also allegedly beat her when she was pregnant, and broke her finger in retaliation for an obscene gesture she gave him, prosecutors say.
Police were called to their Hattie Street home on July 15, 2001, after receiving reports of an attack on the woman. Heinze was accused of punching her several times and biting her in the face. The bite broke the 20-year-old’s skin and left visible teeth marks, according to papers filed in that case.
According to police, when they arrived, he tried to flee. He allegedly did so by throwing his son, then 9 months old, several feet through the air to the child’s mother, and then running, reports said.
Heinze, 35, and Jeoney, 30, had met months earlier via the phone chat line Quest. They dated for a month or two. Jeoney even added him to her cellphone plan. They each had their own phone under her name.
Jeoney, however, was apparently willing to call police. She did so less than a month before she was killed. According to police, Heinze owed her $700 and they argued; Heinze threatened to pick her up and throw her from the house. The money issue, however, was a civil matter.
She was reported missing on Jan. 23. It wasn’t until Feb. 28 that Heinze led investigators to his father’s basement and to Jeoney’s body.