JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An accused killer pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the same crime he was convicted of 11 years ago as his family members made their own plea, asking the judge to set bond for their loved one.
Chad Heins' previous murder conviction was tossed out last week because of new DNA evidence.
Heins will be retried on first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery charges in connection with the stabbing death of his pregnant sister-in-law, Tina Heins, in 1993.
New tests found hairs under the fingernails of Tina Heins that weren't hers and didn't come from the suspect or her husband.
The new evidence gave new hope to the man accused of killing his brother's wife and to the father of a family torn apart.
"Keep on praying that it works -- it has to, otherwise I don't believe much in the law system," said Heins' father, Roger Heins.
He said he was preparing for the new trial, which he hopes will set his son free.
In court, Heins cried as his father took the stand Thursday.
Roger Heins and his wife offered their Wisconsin home as collateral to have their son released.
Heins' attorneys and parents asked the judge to release Heins on bond, saying he is innocent.
However, the judge said the evidence presented at Heins' first trial was overwhelming.
"The defendant faced his brother at or near the scene of the murder and his first words to him were, ' I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do it,'" the judge said in court.
The judge set Heins' bond at $1 million.
Outside of court, Heins' parents said they were disappointed but not surprised by the high bond.
"We knew it would probably be high, and we knew there was a possibility that he wouldn't be able to come home, but you can't ever give up hope," said Hein's stepmother, Mary Heins.
"The DNA shows all the evidence. It wasn't him, you know ? But I guess you're guilty until proven innocent," Roger Heins said.
The defendant's parents also said they still believe their son is innocent.
"We believe he's innocent. It's been a long ordeal but it could be worse. At least he has got another trial," Mary Heins said.
Heins' parents and attorneys said there was no way Heins' could make the bond set.
The next trial date is set for the week of Dec. 3.
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