Editor’s note: The Peninsula Clarion does not identify victims in sexual assault cases and will refer to the woman involved in this trial and story by her initials, J.Y.
Defense attorneys have moved for a mistrial in a Soldotna man’s case after his handcuffs were inadvertently left on while jurors re-entered the courtroom from a break in the proceedings.
The prosecution’s case entered its second day of witness testimony on Monday and, from the outset, several objections from lawyers on both sides of Shane Heiman’s trial for felony burglary, assault, and attempted rape kept the exposition moving slowly. Two jurors also stalled proceedings; one was questioned about her son being in law-enforcement, the other said she recognized one of the state’s witnesses. Both were ultimately kept on the jury, though the defense requested that one be placed as an alternate.
Jurors heard Public Defender Josh Cooley’s cross-examination of a witness, J.Y., who has a rape case pending against Heiman and whose emotional testimony ended the day Friday when she told jurors about a day she said she was kidnapped from her apartment and raped for hours before escaping when her abductor — whom she identified as Heiman — left her unattended in a pickup truck.
They also heard from the brother of the victim in the current trial, an investigating officer in a home invasion case from 2008 when Heiman was convicted of breaking into a Kenai family’s home, and the woman who woke up during the 2008 break-in to find Heiman sitting on her bed.
Jurors took a break just after noon and as they were filing back into the courtroom from that break, Heiman turned to a nearby officer to have his handcuffs removed. Court services officers have been removing Heiman’s handcuffs each day before jurors entered the room to help maintain the presumption of his innocence.
When Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet noticed what was happening, he immediately ordered the jurors out of the room. However, defense attorneys maintained that the jurors had seen Heiman handcuffed and moved for a mistrial.
“While your honor’s reaction was obviously warranted in the situation, it drew attention to it,” said Public Defender Nathan Lockwood. “They know it happened.”
Cooley said he could hear the judicial officer manipulating the handcuffs, making noise and that jurors had to have noticed that Heiman was facing away from them instead of toward them as he has typically done when they enter the room.
Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Lawson disagreed.
“His back was turned, he was discussing something with the (officer). I don’t know that they saw anything,” Lawson said.
Huguelet decided to break for the day and begin questioning jurors beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. He said a decision on the motion for a mistrial would be made then. If a mistrial is declared, a new jury will have to be selected and the trial will begin again.
Before the incident, Cooley spent more than an hour poking holes in J.Y.’s testimony.
Cooley questioned J.Y.’s testimony that she had been wearing a pajama shirt in bed when Heiman attacked her. She told jurors Friday that Heiman had pulled the shirt up and covered her face as he raped her in his truck. Cooley showed her a photo that she had texted to someone the night of the attack in which she is not wearing a pajama shirt. Cooley said she had testified previously that she had been wearing a tank top. J.Y. cried as she told Cooley she wasn’t sure what she had testified to.
Cooley also asked J.Y. about her testimony that the man who raped her had been holding a light, a knife and string when he attacked her.
“He pushed your head also down to the bed?” Cooley said.
“Yes,” J.Y. replied.
“And that was while holding a knife to your throat?” Cooley said.
“I’m not positive of the order,” she said.
Cooley also questioned her testimony of the time she spent in the bed of her attacker’s pickup truck, laying in the snow with a bag over her head.
J.Y. testified that she had struggled against the ties during the 20-30 minutes she spent in the bed of Heiman’s truck.
However, Cooley said investigators had photographed her wrists a few days after the incident and those photos showed no damage to J.Y.’s wrists.
“At that time, there were no marks on your wrist. No scars on your wrists. No evidence remaining a couple of days later of your 30-minute struggle with these ties,” he said.
Cooley pointed out that J.Y. would have had to run past the Alaska State Troopers post on Kalifornsky Beach Road, the Central Emergency Services fire station and the Soldotna Police Department if her testimony about escaping Heiman was to be believed.
“And not one time did anyone stop to help you?” he said.
Cooley also presented evidence that J.Y. had lied to her ex-boyfriend and others about the extent of the attack by texting photographs of fake bruises and writing that Heiman had “beat the s–t” out of her. Before presenting photographs of the text messages, Cooley asked J.Y. if she had been beaten during the attack — she said she had not.
Cooley later asked if she remembered telling investigators that she had lied about being beaten because she didn’t think people would believe that she had been raped.
“Yes,” J.Y. said.