Tonawanda News

February 16, 2013

Heck ruling upheld

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — An appellate court panel upheld the conviction of a Tonawanda man who beat his mother to death with a hammer on Christmas Eve in 2009. 

David Heck, 58, was found guilty of second-degree murder by an Erie County jury on Feb. 18, 2011. 

But Heck, in seeking to overturn the conviction, claimed the evidence used was insufficient, that police violated his rights, that the prosecution was engaged in misconduct and that state Supreme Court Judge M. William Boller had made numerous mistakes, depriving him of a fair trial. 

The appellate court rejected those arguments on Friday, concluding that Heck struck his 87-year-old mother at least 13 times, then “staged the crime scene to make it appear that his mother had fallen and hit her head.” 

Heck used a hammer to bludgeon his mother, Ruth Heck, in their Conant Drive home, where he then left his mother for five days. 

Police found his mother’s body when Heck attempted to commit suicide, then called for assistance. His attorney, John Nuchereno, argued a burglar broke into the home and killed her when Heck was at the store. 

Prosecutors contended that Heck had murdered his mother in part because of foreclosure proceedings involving the home they shared, and because he would lose her Social Security checks once she died of natural causes. He was accused of covering up the murder by staging the scene to make it look like his mother had fallen. 

The appellate panel said there was a preponderance of evidence. Heck was sentenced to 25 years to life by Boller in 2011.