Mr. Craig Heidt had a terrible secret and prosecutors said he shot his parents and brother to keep it hidden.
Armed with a shotgun, the man entered his family’s Springfield home and killed his father, a prominent realtor and developer, and his brother while they slept. But his mother survived.
Mr. Heidt said the evidenced used to convict him and earn him two life sentences was insufficient. But on Monday the Supreme Court of Georgia denied his claim and unanimously upheld his convictions for the 2008 shootings.
The following details of the high-profile case, which was featured on the TV show, “Dateline” was obtained from court documents:
Officers got the 911 call in the early morning hours on Aug. 25 about the shooting at the home of Mr. Philip and Linda Heidt in Effingham County, just north of Savannah.
The couple had three sons – Craig, Chris and Carey. Mr. Carey Heidt and his dad were business partners.
“When officers arrived at the couple’s home, they found Linda severely wounded from shots to her face and throat,” according to the reports.
Deputies made their way through the home, which reeked of gasoline.
“The deputies then discovered Carey Heidt dead in a spare bedroom, still under the covers, with a shotgun wound to his face,” the court documents show. “They also discovered Philip Heidt dead in his bed from a shotgun blast to his face. He was still wearing his sleep apnea mask.”
At trial, prosecutors said Mr. Craig Heidt shot his family out of lust for his brother’s wife and greed for his family's money.
They revealed evidence, which showed that several months before the murders Mr. Craig Heidt had begun having an affair with Mrs. Robin Rast Heidt, the wife of his youngest brother, Carey.
Mr. Philip Heidt confronted his daughter-in-law about the affair. She called Mr. Craig Heidt and told him about the confrontation with his father.
In August 2008, Mr. Philip Heidt and his son, Carey, had a friend circle in a helicopter the cabin where Mr. Craig and his sister-in-law were staying to get photos of the illicit couple.
The woman asked her husband about the helicopter and he told her it was to get proof of her affair with his brother.
After a heated argument, Mr. Carey Heidt packed a bag and went to stay with his parents. Shortly after he left, the woman called Mr. Craig Heidt and told him where her husband had gone.
In the middle of the night, Mr. Heidt entered his parents’ home by using the spare key he knew was hidden in their carport, prosecutors said.
"He then shot his parents and brother close-range with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with 3-inch Winchester buckshot," according to court reports.
Later, investigators found three unspent 3-inch shotgun shells in Mr. Craig Heidt’s vehicle. Four days after the murders, Mr. Heidt was seen with three bruises on his upper arms, which were consistent with his having fired three shots from a shotgun.
Prosecutors also revealed evidence that Mr. Craig Heidt had only nominal assets and was living in a friend’s hunting cabin with his only source of income being monthly disability insurance payments.
“A week before the murders, Craig consulted with a realtor about purchasing property for him and Robin, saying he soon would be coming into some money,” the report shows.
Prosecutors claimed he wanted his parents and brother dead so he would inherit their money and be able to finance the lifestyle he and his brother's wife hoped to share together with her children.
The defense claimed the state produced no physical evidence that tied Mr. Heidt to the murders, and the only surviving witness, his mother, could not identify her assailant.
Still, the jury found Mr. Heidt guilty of malice murder, aggravated assault, attempted arson, burglary and weapons charges and he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 85 years in prison.
The trial court denied his motion for a new trial, and Mr. Heidt appealed to the state Supreme Court, claiming the trial court and state made a number of errors. Among them, Mr. Heidt claimed the evidence was insufficient to convict him and pointed especially to the conflicting expert testimony about the causes of the bruises on his arms.
However, the state's highest court disagreed.
"We conclude that the evidence in this case was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find Heidt guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted,” Justice Keith Blackwell writes in Monday’s opinion.
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