Friday, February 22, 2008

Chad Heins: 45 Degrees Below and Happy to Free

The Florida Times Union ran an article on adjustment of Chad Heins to home life in Nekoosa, Wisconsin after his long-sought exoneration out of Jacksonville, Florida in December 2007:

But for Chad Heins, everything changed. Like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle, he returned to a strange new world of cell phones, e-mails and DVDs. Even the multiple buttons on his parents' TV remote control baffle him.

His relationship with his brother, once close, is shattered, perhaps beyond repair. He's learning how to be a dad to two teenagers without the benefit of watching them grow up. A simple trip to Wal-Mart is an adventure.

"You don't walk that close to people in prison," he says.. . .

But for now, Heins chooses to bask in being there, rather than obsess over the lost years or how the story might end.

. . .

"You don't realize how good it is to be home until you get it all snatched away," he told the Times-Union as he relaxed at the dining room table noshing on brats and cheese curds.

Chad seems to be adjusting well and is enjoying his family. What is most disconcerting is how his case is seemingly becoming a political football in the upcoming State Attorney race back in Jacksonville, Florida:

But Heins also admits to some concern about what will happen to the case if Angela Corey, one of the prosecutors in his case, is successful in her bid to replace Shorstein this year.

"I don't know what I done to her, but she hates me," he said.

Corey said his fears are well-founded. If elected, she said she will review the evidence to see what's changed since she left the State Attorney's Office in 2006, but she would re-charge him with the evidence that exists now. She reasons that jurors knew about unidentified hairs from another man on Tina's body, and they convicted Heins anyway.

Her opponent, Chief Assistant State Attorney Jay Plotkin, said although the case remains open and Heins is a suspect, "people deserve better than prosecution by politics." He said arguments Corey made to jurors in 1996 about stray hair being transferred from a used mattress couldn't be made now in light of the additional DNA evidence.
Some people just never learn. This is the first instance I have ever seen of someone using the retrial of a completely innocent and already exonerated individual as a campaign slogan. Especially in light of the fact that there is semen on the victim's bed, blood from her fingernail scrapings, and pubic hair found on her body that all match the same unknown male perpetrator. Instead of using Chad Heins as a political pawn, they should be concentrating on finding this still unknown murderer.

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