A Glynn County jury found Guy W. Heize Jr. guilty in October 2013 of killing eight people — including his father — four years earlier at the New Hope Plantation mobile home park. But allegations of missing and mishandled evidence dogged the prosecution, and Nov. 6, Heinze’s attorney filed an amended motion for a new trial. The original motion was filed Nov. 1.
Christina Rudy, a lawyer with the Metro Capital Defender’s Office, represents Heinze. While a member of the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office was part of Heinze’s defense team, the office did not participate in the trial.
In the motion, she presents 11 errors committed during Heinze’s trial in Glynn County Superior Court.
Among those alleged errors:
• “The jurors that were empaneled in the trial of this case failed to comply with the instructions that the Court charged. The jury shifted the burden of proof to Mr. Heinze to prove his innocence, required him to provide evidence of an alibi, and rendered a verdict despite not understanding the evidence.”
• An item “… was destroyed without Mr. Heinze having had an opportunity to view or test the item. The State also elicited testimony concerning blood spatter on this item that was not disclosed to the defendant prior to trial, to which the defense objected and moved for mistrial.”
• “Upon information and belief, former Glynn County Police Chief Matthew Doering conducted fingerprint comparisons on the evidence collected in this case. The discovery provided to the defense does not contain any documentation concerning these fingerprint comparisons.”
• “Additional evidence related to the murders at Lot 147 — nunchucks and an Estwing Hammer — was found after law enforcement concluded processing the crime scene …. This evidence was turned over to Glynn County Police but is now missing and was not available for Mr. Heinze to examine, inspect and/or test prior to trial.”
• “The State suppressed an Internal Affairs investigation into the prior conduct by Investigator Michael Owens in which he admitted to collecting evidence in a criminal case, and failing to properly collect and preserve that evidence.”
• Additionally, “… the State lost or destroyed the audio recording of an interview with Joseph Bryant ‘Big Joe’ Anderson. The contents of the interview ere exculpatory in that Mr. Anderson provides information concerning alternate suspects.”
• The presiding judge made errors in his jury instructions before deliberations, and the lead prosecutor in the case stepped outside the bounds of closing arguments by making “… improper comments on the role of defense counsel at trial, improper comments concerning the magistrate’s role in the issuance of arrest warrants, comments contradicted by the evidence during the course of the trial, and impermissibly vouching for the credibility of witnesses.”
The motion also includes a notation of the unusual agreement during the trial between prosecutors and the defense “… which resulted in a (juror) being removed from the jury panel and replaced with an alternate and by the State (withdrawing) the Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty ‘in this case for this trial and any subsequent trial, should there be a subsequent trial.’”
During the trial, prosecutors argued Heinze, on his own and while high on crack, bludgeoned the eight victims and assaulted the ninth, a child, with a 20-gauge shotgun.
Investigators never found the murder weapon, though a hammer was discovered at the crime scene a year later. A forensic pathologist testifying for the defense said more than one person was likely involved in the crime, and a hammer would account for the victims’ wounds.
Prosecutors have until Dec. 15 to file a response to the motion. The defense then has until Jan. 15, 2018, to file a response to the prosecution, with a hearing scheduled for Feb. 13, 2018.