A jury of eight women and four men will begin to hear evidence and testimony this morning in the trial of an Effingham County man accused of killing his father and brother.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys spent nearly eight hours Tuesday going through a pool of 58 potential jurors before selecting a panel of 12 with three alternates in the double murder trial of Craig Heidt. Opening statements are expected to begin at 9 a.m. in the Ebenezer Courtroom of the Effingham County Judicial Complex.
Craig Heidt is accused in the August 2008 shooting deaths of his father, noted real estate agent and developer Philip Heidt, and brother Carey Heidt. Craig Heidt also is charged with severely wounding his mother, Linda Heidt, in the early morning shooting that took place at Philip Heidt’s home on Springfield-Egypt Road in Effingham.
The trial has been delayed on a number of occasions already. Defense attorney Dow Bonds asked for a continuance in order to care for his mother, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in April.
Earlier that month, co-counsel Manubir Arora was disqualified from representing Craig Heidt since he also was representing Robin Heidt, Carey Heidt’s widow, and prosecutors said they may call her as a witness. Robin Heidt was charged in February with tampering with a witness. Defense attorneys had filed more than 30 pre-trial motions, and Arora had prepared most of those.
Bonds filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court on Arora’s disqualification. The state’s justices unanimously dismissed the appeal.
Another trial start date of Aug. 17 was scrubbed when Bonds had a case in U.S. District Court in Savannah that could not be moved on the calendar.
In September, the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney asked for and was granted a continuance in the case after the death of a potential witness at Robin Heidt’s home.
On Tuesday, Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Gates Peed also denied defense attorney Dow Bonds’ motion for a change of venue. Possible jurors were questioned if they had heard or seen accounts of the case. Bonds and then co-counsel Manubir Arora first filed for change of venue in July 2009, citing extensive pre-trial news media coverage.
Judge Peed, in issuing his ruling not to grant the change of motion venue, said only a handful of the jurors brought in for questioning had to be excused for preconceived opinions about the case.
“The court paid particular attention to the responses,” Peed said.