District Attorney Hoovler Announces Guilty Verdict in Infant’s Death Murder Case
Jury Finds Father Guilty of Murder in the Second Degree for Killing Seven- Week-Old Infant
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Thursday, September 21, 2017, Michael Heil, 27, of Middletown, was found guilty, after a three week jury trial, before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown, of murdering his seven-week-old infant son. The jury found Heil guilty of two counts of Murder in the Second Degree, Manslaughter in the First Degree, and Manslaughter in the Second Degree. Prosecutors had argued that on August 7, 2016, Heil slammed, severely shook, or threw the baby. The infant lived for about two weeks on life support before succumbing to his injuries. During the trial, nine medical witnesses testified for the prosecution and two experts testified on behalf of the defendant. Prosecutors had argued that the evidence from all the medical experts established that the infant had suffered catastrophic head injuries while being cared for by Heil. According to prosecutors, the evidence established that Heil had subjected his infant son to traumatic head injuries, while the infant’s mother was at work. Prosecutors established, through electronic and social media evidence, Heil’s growing pattern of frustration over the victim’s inconsolable crying as a result of being diagnosed with colic. This pattern continued in the hours and minutes prior to the victim becoming unresponsive. At the trial, Heil argued that the infant’s mother had injured the baby. Heil had been arrested by the City of Middletown Police Department on September 13, 2016.
Heil faces up to twenty-five years to life in prison when he is sentenced on November 16, 2017.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Middletown Police Department for their investigation of the case and Heil’s apprehension.
District Attorney Hoovler highly commended Assistant District Attorney Jason Rosenwasser and Assistant District Attorney Janine Kovacs who prosecuted the case.
“There can be no more innocent a victim than an infant, and no greater crime than a father killing his own baby,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “The evidence in this case showed that Zachary Heil had suffered brutal injuries, which could only have been inflicted by his own father. The jury rejected the defendant’s attempt to shift the blame to the baby’s grieving mother. In light of all of the circumstances, my office will be recommending that the maximum permissible sentence be imposed upon Michael Heil. I thank the City of Middletown Police Department for their professionalism in handling this case, and particularly for their working closely with my office in the investigation of Zachary Heil’s death.”
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.