JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The man wrongly convicted of killing his sister-in-law faced a judge on Tuesday for a hearing his supporters hoped would lead to the state attorney's office dropping its case and setting him free. Instead, the hearing was delayed.
In 1996, Chad Heins was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 1994 murder of his pregnant sister-in-law, Tina Heins. He spent more than 10 years in prison for the crime.
Last week, his conviction was thrown out after DNA evidence found on the victim proved someone other than Heins was present when the murder was committed.
Before Tuesday's hearing, Heins was talking with his defense counsel, appearing happy, smiling and laughing.
The question buzzing inside of the courtroom was whether Heins would walk out the door a free man -- something he hadn't been in nearly 12 years.
Defense attorneys were hoping Heins would be going home in time for the holidays. Instead, he remained locked up in the Duval County Jail, awaiting another court date.
"Obviously, one hopes the situation gets resolved in the appropriate way, but it is clear as day that Chad Heins did not commit this crime," said Jenny Greenberg, of the Florida Innocence Initiative.
Defense counsel and attorneys with the Florida Innocence Initiative said the evidence leaves more than enough reasonable doubt that Heins didn't murder his sister-in-law, and that he should go free.
"It seems that given what we all know from these DNA results and the strength of the state's initial case, the least we can do is to have this man home with his family for Christmas," said Greenberg.
Instead, Heins was led back to jail, shackled, wearing a green jump suit. He will wait for a hearing on a bond motion, which the judge said he would look into after the New Year.
State Attorney Harry Shorestein told Channel 4 his office has not made a decision about what course of action it will take in Heins' case.
- December 14, 2006: Brother-In-Law's Murder Conviction Thrown Out
- July 13, 2006: New DNA Evidence Could Free Convicted Murderer
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