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Author Topic: Stephen Heard Sentenced to LWOP in 2005 Fort Worth TX Officer's Murder  (Read 1626 times)

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Offline Jeff1857

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FORT WORTH, Texas  - A man faces the death penalty after gunning down a Fort Worth police officer two years ago.

Jurors convicted Stephen Lance Heard of capital murder Tuesday in the death of Officer Hank Nava (NAH'-vah). Police had gone to a mobile home looking for Heard, who was wanted for a parole violation.

Defense attorneys claimed Heard didn't know Nava was a police officer. They told jurors he didn't hear his girlfriend announce that officers were coming in -- and then fired in self-defense after officers fired 34 shots.
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Penalty phase to follow. He should be the newest addition to Texas DR very soon.

Offline Jeff1857

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A man who gunned down a police officer two years ago was convicted Tuesday of capital murder and now faces the death penalty.

Jurors deliberated four hours before convicting Stephen Lance Heard, 41, nearly two years to the day that Officer Hank Nava was shot in the head. He had gone with other officers to a mobile home looking for Heard, who was wanted for a parole violation.

Defense attorneys had told jurors that Heard did not know that Nava, who was dressed in plain clothes that day, was a police officer. Mark Daniel and Tim Moore claimed that Heard did not hear his girlfriend announce that police were coming in and then fired in self-defense after officers fired 34 shots.

Daniel told jurors that police and prosecutors were under pressure to hold someone responsible and punish them harshly because an officer was killed.

"There are no winners, but if you follow the law and what the evidence shows you, the law wins. And if the law wins, we all win," Daniel told jurors during closing arguments, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in its online edition Tuesday.

But prosecutors said Heard watched police walk up to the trailer and intentionally started shooting when Nava, 39, opened the bedroom door. They reminded jurors that, after the gunfire stopped, Heard ran to a nearby home and held a woman hostage for three hours.

Prosecutor Alan Levy said there was nothing unlawful about the officers' actions that day.

"Since when are officers not entitled, when they see a drug addict with a loaded revolver, to draw their weapon?" Levy said.

The punishment phase of the trial is to begin Wednesday, The Dallas Morning News reported in its Tuesday online edition.


Peter

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So Heard didn't know that he was firing at a Police Officer and that makes it right?

Am I missing summin here?

Peter M.

Offline Michael

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This arguments are unbelievable. If he knows this is a officer he hadn´t shoot? Such an Id***!  >:(

Didn´t he learn not to shoot at anybody (normaly)?

Regards

Michael
I´m not sure if there´s a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

Offline Jeff1857

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I bellieve that the girlfriend whose trailer where this murder occurred is equally responsible. She probably knew he was armed, she announced loud to him that the police were there and he came out blasting. I would think she has to go down for something but maybe not I dunno.

Offline Jeff1857

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FORT WORTH -- Deloris Pulce acknowledges that her son Stephen Heard has disappointed her over and over again.

He has been arrested countless times on drug, alcohol, forgery, theft and assault charges. And he killed Fort Worth police officer Henry "Hank" Nava.

Although Pulce made no excuses for her son, she told jurors Thursday evening that she still loves him and hopes they will spare him from execution.

"I would like to ask y'all to believe me when I tell you that he is very sorry," Pulce said, crying. "We're all very sorry. He has had a lot of problems. But he has had a lot of good things that he has done.

"I would like to ask y'all not to kill him."

Pulce was among 10 witnesses called by defense attorneys Thursday during the punishment phase of Heard's capital murder trial. On Tuesday, a jury of seven women and five men convicted Heard of fatally wounding Nava on Nov. 29, 2005.

Closing arguments are set for 9:30 this morning in state District Judge Elizabeth Berry's court. When the lawyers are finished, jurors will begin deliberating on whether Heard should be sentenced to life in prison without parole or receive the death penalty.

Under state law, for jurors to assess the death penalty, they must find that Heard is likely to commit future violent acts and that there are no factors in his character or background that would make a life sentence more appropriate.

Prosecutors Alan Levy, Betty Arvin and Miles Brissette have portrayed Heard as a violent drug addict, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood and a cop killer.

Defense attorneys Mark Daniel and Tim Moore have characterized him as an intelligent man and a skilled electrician who becomes a totally different person under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The judge has told jurors that they will be sequestered during their deliberations.

The defense team called as witnesses ministers, correctional officers and drug counselors, all of whom said favorable things about Heard.

Perhaps their most compelling witness, though, was Pulce, 57, a registered nurse. She described how Heard grew up in Texarkana, the oldest of four siblings. He never really knew his father and was raised by her second husband.

As a boy, Heard was active in church choir and played the hand bells. As a 10th-grader, he dropped out of school and joined the Army Reserve, Pulce testified.

Heard has used drugs and alcohol much of his life, she said.

But when he isn't intoxicated, she said, he's a good person.

"There is Steve on drugs and Steve off drugs," Pulce testified.

Heard has twice attempted suicide, she said. The first time, she said, he turned on the gas in his trailer home. The second time, he cut his throat and walked into the woods.

After that, she said, he was admitted to a psychiatric facility.

He has repeatedly been in trouble with the law, she said. In 1988, she pressed charges against him after he took one of her checks and bought $345 worth of clothes. He was put on probation but later violated it and was sent to prison.

Heard has spent eight years in prison.

When he was paroled in the spring of 2005, she allowed him to move into her home in the Texarkana, Texas, area.

"He's my son, and I love him," Pulce explained. "He was making every effort to do right and make this his last time."

At first, he stayed sober, had a job and was trying to get more visitation time with his young son, Jacob.

Eventually, however, he wrecked her car after drinking, and she kicked him out. Sometime after that, she said, he moved to the Metroplex and stopped coming around much.

"When he starts doing things he shouldn't be doing, he stays away from me," Pulce said.

She said she lost contact with him in August 2005. Three months later, she found out he had been arrested in the death of a police officer.

Pulce acknowledged that after his arrest, she told reporters that her son was a drug addict who shouldn't have had a gun and that she would not support him.

Since then, she said, they have reconnected. She said that she has seen positive changes in Heard during his two years in the Tarrant County Jail, and that he has attended Bible study and knows he needs God's forgiveness.

"He is very remorseful," she said. "He hates that he has disappointed me again."


Offline Jeff1857

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A man convicted in the 2005 shooting death of a Fort Worth police officer has been sentenced to life in prison.

Jurors on Friday decided punishment for 41-year-old Stephen Lance Heard.

The jury on Tuesday convicted Heard of capital murder in the killing of Officer "Hank" Nava.

The lawman had gone with other officers to a mobile home looking for Heard, who was wanted for parole violation.

The defense said Heard did not know that Nava, who was dressed in plain clothes, was a policeman.

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Huh? I thought for sure he was going to be sentenced to death. I'll post more when it becomes available. I HOPE this is LWOP as opposed to life.

Offline Jeff1857

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A parole violator who shot a police officer in the head was spared the death penalty Friday and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Jurors deliberated about four hours before deciding on life behind bars for Stephen Lance Heard, 41, who was convicted earlier this week of killing Fort Worth police officer Henry "Hank" Nava two years ago.

Nava had gone with other officers to a mobile home looking for Heard, who was wanted for a parole violation and also was suspected in an identity theft ring.

After the sentencing, the widow and mother of his two young children, Teresa Nava, said she thought Heard deserved the death penalty but that she was satisfied with the sentence.

"It puts a little closure on it because we don't have this trial hanging over our heads," she said.

During closing arguments Friday morning, defense attorney Mark Daniel appealed to jurors' emotional side in urging them to spare Heard's life, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in its online edition Friday.

"Steven Heard is a human being," Daniel told the jury. "He has blood in his veins and flesh. He is one of God's creatures. Ladies and gentleman, this is a human being."

Daniel said that although Heard is an alcoholic and drug addict, he will not be a danger to society if he is locked up for the rest of his life.

But prosecutors reminded jurors about Heard's many arrests and chances for rehabilitation. They pointed to numerous letters that Heard had written from jail in which he pledges his allegiance to the Aryan Brotherhood and makes threats to a particular inmate.

"He talks his way into people's lives and talks his way out of trouble," prosecutor Betty Arvin told the jury, The Dallas Morning News reported in Friday's online edition. "Did you hear from one friend who said he's a good guy, that he has a good heart? No, because he doesn't have a good heart."

The option of life without parole in capital murder cases in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state, was signed into law in June 2005. It went into effect that September, about three months before Nava was killed.

At the time, many prosecutors opposed the bill when it included keeping the parole option as a third choice for jurors in capital murder cases, but they agreed to support the bill once that was stripped out.

Death penalty opponents said they hoped the provision would result in fewer executions in Texas.