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2/28/2013 8:10:00 AM
Trial begins in case of man who shot roommate

Scott Orr
Special to the Tribune

PRESCOTT - A trial began Wednesday for a Prescott Valley man who shot his roommate in the arm this past June.

John Frank Heinkel III, 59, was indicted on three counts of aggravated assault. Officers responded to a 911 call at a residence in the 8800 block of Waco Court at about 1:15 a.m. on June 19, 2012. They found a 56-year-old female victim with a gunshot wound to her arm.

The victim was taken to Yavapai Regional Medical Center before being flown to John C. Lincoln North Mountain in the Valley to have bullet fragments removed from her arm.

In his opening statement, Deputy County Attorney Steve Young said the fact that Heinkel shot the woman was "undisputed."

He said Heinkel was at home with four friends, and "they were drinking all afternoon and into the evening hours."

Young said the victim went into her bedroom with another man, locked the door and fell asleep, but woke up when she heard loud pounding on the door. When she opened it, Young said, Heinkel was standing there with a handgun and fired a shot, striking the victim in the arm.

Three hours after Heinkel shot the victim, well after he had stopped drinking, he was given a portable breath test, Young said, which registered a .261 blood alcohol content.

Critical, Young said, is that Heinkel was holding a revolver when he fired, which made his story that the shooting was an accident improbable. "That gun cannot be discharged unless the hammer is pulled back," he said. Heinkel also told a police detective that he decided to fire to get people's attention, Young said, but claimed he "wasn't trying to hit anyone."

"We are here about an accident," Matt Cochran, Heinkel's attorney, said.

"Not everything the state told you is undisputed in this case," he said. "When the gun was fired, it was in Mr. Heinkel's hand - we can't dispute that."

But Heinkel was the one who was awakened by a commotion, and he found two men, one much larger than him and the other a former U.S. Marine, fighting in another room, Cochran said.

Heinkel grabbed his gun to try to break up the fight, but one of the men tried to take it away and, Cochran said, "the gun fires and the bullet hits (the victim) in the arm."

Cochran asserted that the gun would not have fired if the man hadn't tried to pull the gun out of Heinkel's hand.

"It does not amount to a crime," Cochran said.

Related Stories:
• Man who shot roommate gets 6.5 years in prison
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• Prescott Valley man arrested after early morning shooting

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