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Guy Heinze Jr. in Court for Pretrial Hearing in Brunswick

4:07 PM, May 25, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Guy Heinze Jr. in Court

Guy Heinze, Jr.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- The man accused of killing his father and seven others last August made his first appearance in court this morning.

Guy Heinze Jr., 22, was in Superior Court Chief Justice Amanda Williams' courtroom in Glynn County, today where he formally learned he could face the death penalty, something the prosecution has been saying since his arrest days after the brutal attack in a mobile home.

No date was set for Heinze's next appearance, but the judge discussed the issue of coverage of the trial.

"He's scared to death, and he knows he didn't do it," Tyler Heinze, the suspect's 17-year-old brother, told the Associated Press as he left the courthouse.

While Heinze's brother watched from the back of the courtroom, family and friends of several of the other victims sat quietly up front.

Williams disagreed with the defense's assertion that Heinze has already had too much negative publicity and cameras in the courtroom would only add to that.

"If you can show that to this court, I will close this courtroom to the press as well as the public," she said.

Saying that nothing should be private in this case, and that the press and the public shouldn't be excluded, Williams said she will allow a video camera in the courtroom to provide a pool feed and will also allow still cameras, provided they are quiet.

Attorneys have subpoenaed local newspapers to acquire circulation data for issues with stories about the Heinze case.

Williams said she would be willing to discuss a potential change of venue if the parties agree the case has been too publicized to allow Heinze a fair trial in Glynn County.

While Heinze's brother watched from the back of the courtroom, family and friends of several of the other victims sat quietly up front.

Heinze is charged with eight counts of murder, one count of aggravated assault and also faces two drug charges.

On the morning of Aug. 29, Heinze made a frantic 911 call reporting that his family had been beaten to death. He sobbed as he told a police dispatcher: "My whole family's dead."

He was arrested two weeks later and indicted for the murders and the assault of the lone survivor, a toddler.

The victims included Diane Isenhour, whose four children -- Chrissy Toler, 22; Russell D. Toler Jr., 20; Michael Toler, 19; and Michelle Toler, 15 -- were among those slain. So was her ex-husband, 44-year-old Rusty Toler Sr.

The other victims were Rusty Toler's sister, Brenda Gail Falagan, 49, and Chrissy Toler's boyfriend, Joseph L. West, 30.

Related Links

First Coast News, Associated Press

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