DANBURY — Jury selection in the trial of John Sherman Heath, 69, of Bridgewater, who is charged with murder in the April 1984 death of his former wife, Elizabeth Gough Heath, has been scheduled to start in mid-July.
At a May 15 closed, supervised pretrial conference among Judge Susan S. Reynolds, Supervising Assistant State’s Attorney Warren Murray, who is the prosecutor, and attorney Francis L. O’Reilly, who is the special public defender who represents Mr Heath, it was decided to start jury selection on July 16, Mr O’Reilly said.
Following the conference, Mr O’Reilly said, “We’re preparing for trial,” declining further comment on the case.
Mr Heath did not appear in Courtroom 3 at the White Street courthouse where Judge Reynolds was presiding.
May 15 marked the 12th time that the Heath case has appeared on the court docket.
While awaiting a jury trial on the murder charge, Mr Heath is being held on $1,002,500 bail at the Bridgeport Correctional Center.
In May 2012, Mr Heath pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Heath, 32, whose skeletal remains were discovered in April 2010 hidden beneath the floor of a barn at 89 Poverty Hollow Road in Newtown, at a property where the Heaths had formerly lived.
In July 2012, following a probable cause hearing, a judge ruled that the state had presented sufficient evidence to require Mr Heath to stand trial for murder.
Mr Heath killed his wife and then hid her body, a prosecutor has said in court.
Based on the skeletal evidence, which was inspected by the chief state medical examiner, there was the intent to kill Ms Heath, when considering that her facial bones were crushed inward and that her arm was broken, indicating her defensive actions during the fatal attack.
Mr O’Reilly has argued that the state lacks evidence and is basing its case on “speculation and conjecture.” The state’s case is based on circumstantial evidence.
Mr Heath’s bail on the murder charge is $1 million. That bail was increased by $2,500 following an incident last September at the Bridgeport jail, after which state police lodged two additional criminal charges against Mr Heath. Mr Heath had allegedly assaulted a 51-year-old female nurse.
Mr Heath has pleaded not guilty to third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace. That case is pending in Bridgeport Superior Court.