Editor’s note: This story has been edited to include information about Heiman’s potential jail time. The maximum allowed under Alaska law for his alleged crimes is 99 years.
The jury selection process is ongoing in the trial of a man accused of breaking into a Soldotna woman’s home and attempting to rape her.
Shane Heiman, of Soldotna, is facing four charges stemming from a 2013 incident during which police allege that he broke into the woman’s home on Tobacco Lane, threatened her with a knife, attempted to rape her and later resisted arrest.
He faces up to 99 years in prison and $400,000 in fines if convicted.
Heiman, who is still in police custody, is represented by public defender Josh Cooley who spent his time with potential jurors asking questions about their understanding of the state’s burden in proving Heiman’s guilt, beyond the shadow of a doubt.
He presented several scenarios involving second-hand information and details that could lead a spectator to assume or assign guilt — before reminding jurors that there could be no assumptions of guilt, only incontrovertible proof.
“This is going to be a very difficult case to judge,” Cooley said. “ The rules that apply in this case are not different than any other … just because there are very serious and, in fact, disgusting charges.”
Several potential jurors told Cooley that they had daughters or granddaughters and would have difficulty with pre-judging Heiman based on the charges in the case. Another told Cooley that he had sat on a jury in a sexual assault case previously and that it had “kept him up at night.”
“Probably no one in this courtroom is comfortable with allegations of sexual assault, or attempted sexual assault. But, do you think that … it might affect your deliberations,” Cooley said.
Ultimately, many of the potential jurors were excluded and the selection process will resume Thursday at 10 a.m.
Heiman also faces similar charges in connection with an alleged November 2013 rape of an 18-year-old Soldotna woman after DNA evidence linked him to the crime.
In both cases, the women described an attacker who invaded their homes in the early morning hours, wore a headlamp, and threatened them with a knife.
Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet told jurors that the trial would likely last a week, if not longer.
The trial will resume Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
Reach Rashah McChesney at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens