The final witness in the Robert Heitbrink murder trial was Robert Heitbrink himself, and he spent the majority of his testimony this morning telling his side of the story.
The prosecution in this case rested yesterday. Heitbrink’s defense team of James Elmore and Craig Reiser called Robert’s brother, David Heitbrink, to testify that he had taken several dozen pictures of Heitbrink several days after he fatally stabbed William McElhaney, his father-in-law.
The pictures were taken to document injuries to Robert.
Following that, the now 51-year-old former real estate agent testified about what he said happened in the early morning hours of July 27th, 2013, in the garage of Heitbrink’s 37 Ivywood Drive residence.
Special Prosecutor Charles Colburn objected to the impending testimony as hearsay, and Judge Chris Reif instructed the jury to treat Heitbrink’s words as possibly true or not true.
Robert said he and William, who he said he “loved like a brother”, were talking about the trip that Robert’s two boys had just come back from.
As defense attorneys had previously asked Robert’s ex-wife, Shelley, Robert noted his one son had anxiety issues, needing counseling and medication to treat the problem.
He says he told William he was concerned about his son going on the trip because of those anxiety issues, and added he didn’t think he wanted to go.
That’s when Heitbrink says McElhaney became argumentative, and asked why Robert was concerned.
Heitbrink said McElhaney started acting as if Robert was accusatory, and that William said, “Do you think I did something to [your son]?”
According to Heitbrink’s testimony, McElhaney then began saying “I’m no child molester, I’m no pedophile.”
At that point, Heitbrink said he wanted to talk to his son. He says McElhaney blocked his way, but he went around him.
Robert then disputed Shelley Heitbrink’s previous testimony that he said, “someone’s gonna get hurt” upon entering the bedroom where Shelley and her two boys were sleeping.
Ultimately, Robert returned back by himself, and says he answered questions from William about what he said to his son, and then what he said to his wife, when she came downstairs to check on the situation.
Robert says he told William he didn’t say anything, and that they’d talk about this in the morning.
Heitbrink says McElhaney became agitated again, and said “I’m no pedophile, I’m no child molester,” and then testified that he then saw him with a knife in his hands.
Heitbrink says he believed McElhaney got the knife from a bench in the garage that he said he had placed previously to fix. He says McElhaney lunged at him, to his disbelief.
Heitbrink says he didn’t say “I’ll kill you,” as a next-door neighbor testified to hearing during last week’s portion of the trial. He says he wasn’t sure if McElhaney said it.
Heitbrink says he hit McElhaney in the face several times, then lost his footing and fell. He says McElhaney jumped on top of him, with the knife.
He explained that he grabbed William’s forearm and pushed it towards his head, which he believed was how McElhaney suffered a stab wound there.
He told jurors he then hit McElhaney in the head several more times, kicked him off of him, and sat back up. He says William then fell to the ground; the knife was on the floor.
He said McElhaney was turned up on his side, and was reaching for the knife and kicking Robert.
Heitbrink testified that’s when he stabbed McElhaney.
He says he then said “what are you thinking?” to William, went upstairs, kicked open the door to the room William’s wife, Connie was sleeping, and said, “get your child-molesting husband.”
Heitbrink said he didn’t think McElhaney was going to die, and that he was shocked when he saw how much blood there was upon returning to the garage.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Colburn asked, “Why didn’t you stand up and walk away?” before the stabbing. Heitbrink said it was because McElhaney was kicking him and had been reaching for the knife.
Heitbrink responded similarly to questions from Colburn asking why he stabbed him in the specific areas he did and added that the stab points were random.
Colburn noted McElhaney had no weapons in his hand when Heitbrink stabbed him.
Colburn asked if Heitbrink recalled McElhaney’s response to being stabbed, to which the answer was “no”. Colburn quipped that McElhaney was like “the Terminator”, in terms of apparently not responding to any of the stabs.
The defense rested following Heitbrink’s testimony. Closing arguments are expected this afternoon, followed by jury deliberation.