Jury finds Soldotna man guilty of attempted rape

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Friday, April 17, 2015 6:14pm
  • News

Editor’s note: The Peninsula Clarion does not identify victims in sexual assault cases and will refer to the women involved in this trial and story by their initials, E.L. and J.Y.

 After several hours of deliberation, a jury found a Soldotna man guilty on four charges of attempted rape, burglary, assault and resisting arrest. 

The charges were levied against Shane Heiman, 40, after he broke into a woman’s home in 2013. Jurors heard more than a week of testimony from witnesses whose homes Heiman had broken into and law enforcement officers who investigated the crimes. 

Prosecuting attorney Kelly Lawson and defense attorney Josh Cooley sparred several times over the testimony that Lawson used to build her case that Heiman is a repeat offender who breaks into women’s homes with the intent of raping them. Cooley highlighted testimony from a 2008 home invasion case in Kenai, during which a woman woke up to find Heiman sitting at the foot of her bed. 

She testified that she woke her then-boyfriend who chased Heiman from the home. Lawson framed the incident as one in which Heiman was thwarted in his plans to rape the woman, while Cooley said Heiman — whose blood alcohol level at the time was more than twice the state’s legal limit to drive — was confused and unsure of why he was in the home and did not attack anyone. 

“Shane Heiman is a creature of habit,” Lawson said during her closing argument. “He enters into people’s homes late at night. He waits until they’re fast asleep. He enters these homes armed, always with a knife and some form of binding material. He uses alcohol and spice as encouragement, liquid courage if you will.”

A key portion of Lawson’s case was testimony from a woman who said Heiman broke into her home and raped her in November 2013, one month prior to a December 2013 home invasion case that he was tried for over the last several days. Now that he has been convicted in the December case, he’ll face five more charges of sexual assault, kidnapping, assault and burglary from the earlier case. Police used DNA evidence gathered after the November assault to link Heiman to that case after he was arrested in December on the night he broke into a woman’s home on Tobacco Lane. She fought him off and he was later arrested fleeing from the scene in his pickup truck. 

The victim in the earlier case, J.Y., testified that Heiman broke into her apartment, bound her and raped her in his truck for several hours before she escaped and ran into Soldotna. 

Lawson used J.Y.’s testimony as proof that Heiman had intended to rape the woman whose home he broke into in December — he was thwarted when she fought him off and ran to her parents home nearby. 

Cooley spent several hours pointing out inconsistencies in J.Y.’s story. In addition, he said Lawson was using details from other cases to distract jurors from the lack of evidence in the bungled December home invasion. “I would love to get up here and just be able to focus on the case for which you are here. But we can’t because there has been introduction of confusion and introduction of distraction and introductions of things that do not prove intent that Mr. Heiman had in E.L.’s house that night,” Cooley said. “So they take your attention and they focus it on J.Y. and they say, ‘Look, oh, this is really disgusting, this is bad, we want you to use this in your deliberations.’”

Cooley spent nearly an hour speaking during his closing arguments on Friday and most of that time was spent dismantling J.Y.’s testimony. 

“The (J.Y.) case is absolutely riddled with reasonable doubt,” he said. 

He implied that J.Y. had lied several times in her story to the police. He said the physical evidence on her body did not match her story. 

“She tells you that her hands are tied tightly behind her back,” he said. “This is not a natural position for us to be in, it is very uncomfortable.”

J.Y. testified that she fought the bonds as she lie in the back of Heiman’s truck while he drove her to a secluded area. 

“We have photographs of her wrists taken (shortly after the incident),” Cooley said as he handed photos to the jury. “We have photographs of her wrists taken hours later when she was interviewed by a nurse. Already these marks are disappearing. She told you … that she fought those ties for 20 minutes while she was rolling around in the back of the truck.”

He also brought up J.Y.’s testimony during which she admitted that she had lied about being beaten up during the assault because she thought no one would believe her story. 

“She lied about it. As if the story wasn’t incredible enough. She goes, she applies makeup to create the illusion of a bruise and she sends it to her ex-boyfriend,” Cooley said. “This was a one night stand that got sprung into a jealousy trap for (her ex-boyfriend). This was never supposed to go this far.”

Cooley said the jury should not use J.Y.’s testimony that Heiman raped her to support the idea that he was intent on doing the same to E.L. when he broke into her home a month later. 

“The state wants to inflame your passions. They want to use the shocking headline of the J.Y. case to prove what happened in the E.L. case,” he said. “Does anybody want to wake up with somebody else in their house? Absolutely not. This is not OK behavior, but it is not evidence of sexual assault.”

After Cooley spoke, Lawson addressed the jury again before the group went into deliberations. 

“You’ll find this case is simply about the defendant Shane Heiman who intended to sexually assault (E.L.) on Dec. 13, 2013,” Lawson said. “The defendant would like you to believe that this entire case is nothing more than a series of coincidences and easily explainable scenarios.”

Lawson took issue with Cooley’s dismissal of J.Y.’s testimony about being raped. She said the similarities between the two home invasions were difficult to ignore.

“Had (J.Y.) made this entire story up, boy she must have been one heck of a predictor of the future. Otherwise, how could she possibly have known that these details, what happened to her in November, would be almost identical to what happened to (E.L.) one month later?” Lawson said. “From waking up to knives in their faces, waking up to headlamps being shone in their eyes and waking up to this man terrorizing them, from this shotgun they found in his truck a month later, from that rope that (J.Y.) described, to those exact same shoes … it’s those details and evidence and testimony that show how unmistakable and clear these charges are.”

Heiman could be sentenced to more than 99 years in prison and more than $410,000 in fines for the E.L. case, but the state did not set a sentencing hearing. Heiman will be tried for the J.Y. case before he is sentenced. 

Cooley told the court he intended to request a change of venue for the next case as media coverage would make jury selection in Kenai difficult. Heiman’s next hearing is on Monday at 8:30 a.m. at the Kenai courthouse.  

Reach Rashah McChesney at Rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens

More in News

Alaska Department of Fish and Game logo. (Graphic by Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Board of Fisheries approves Kenai River king salmon action plan

The plan adds bait restrictions for in-river fisheries, doubles the sport bag limit for sockeye salmon, and adds a swath of restrictions to the commercial setnet fishery

The Kenai Municipal Airport is seen on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
New Grant Aviation planes to double service’s flight capacity

The first of two Cessna 208B EX Grand Caravans will start transporting passengers on Monday

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Most Read