When Chad Heins was released from prison three years ago after serving 13 years for the murder of his sister-in-law, a slaying that DNA evidence later showed he may not have committed, he had one goal in mind.
"Try to stay out of the court system. Just try and stay out," Heins told Channel 4 as he was released.
He was able to do that until last week. Heins was arrested in his hometown in Wisconsin on animal cruelty charges.
According to police and court documents, Heins was with his two children when police said he intentionally mistreated a cat by throwing it in the garbage after hitting it with his car. The cat is still alive.
Melissa Hardina said she was with a group of people who witnessed what happened.
"It was so sad. You could hear her howling in there, and they just didn't care," Hardina said. "And I am so thrilled that they caught him."
Heins is charged with a felony but has been released from jail. He will have a hearing on the matter in about a month.
If convicted, he could spend three more years in jail and pay a $10,000 fine.
After he was released from jail in 2007, Heins said all he wanted to do was get home to his children.
He said he didn't hold any grudges against the court system.
Still, there are those who believe he never should have been freed, including Angela Corey, who prosecuted his case before she became state attorney.
Corey has always said she would charge him again if new evidence in his sister-in-law's killing came to light.
- December 5, 2007: After 13 Years Locked Up, Chad Heins Starts Life Over
- December 4, 2007: Man Freed 13 Years After Arrest For Murder
- November 20, 2007: New DNA Evidence Delays Murder Retrial
- July 19, 2007: Man To Be Retried In Sister-In-Law's Slaying
- July 17, 2007: Man Convicted Of Murder Gets New Trial
- December 27, 2006: State To Challenge Overturned Murder Conviction
- December 14, 2006: Brother-In-Law's Murder Conviction Thrown Out
- July 13, 2006: New DNA Evidence Could Free Convicted Murderer