July 26, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
60°F

Cleland guilty

Allison Wood | The Gazette

MEDINA — Shaun Cleland again faces a life sentence in prison after a jury convicted him of aggravated murder Tuesday morning for killing 19-year-old David Heinricht in 2005.

The former Army medic showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were read by Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler.

Cleland, 28, was convicted on three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of kidnapping after a two-week trial. The seven-man, five-woman jury deliberated for about six hours over two days before reaching the verdict.

Kimbler will sentence Cleland at 8:30 a.m. July 23.


Shaun Cleland, 28, is handcuffed Tuesday after a Medina County jury found him guilty on seven counts, including aggravated murder, in the death of David Heinricht.. (Lisa Hlavinka | Gazette)

Cleland originally pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and other charges in 2006 and Kimbler sentenced him to 28 years to life in prison. However, the 9th District Court of Appeals in Akron threw out the pleas because Cleland never was told he would be placed on post-release control if he was ever paroled.

On Oct. 1, 2005, Cleland, who was stationed with the Army in Hawaii, flew into Cleveland early that morning and killed David Heinricht later that night after breaking into his Clearbrook Drive apartment and waiting for him to return home from work. Heinricht shared the apartment with Cleland’s estranged wife, Christina Eichelberger.

When Heinricht arrived home at about 11:40 p.m., Cleland strangled him, staged it to look like Heinricht committed suicide, and then left the apartment. Eichelberger found Heinricht’s body at about 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 2 when she returned home from work.

Cleland was arrested at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on the morning of Oct. 2 while waiting for a flight back to Hawaii.

During his trial, Cleland testified a “masked man” kidnapped him after he left Johnny’s Pub and Grill in Brunswick on Oct. 1. He was there to visit Eichelberger, who was tending bar.

She testified he was trying to get her to come back to Hawaii with him.

Cleland claimed the masked man showed him a picture of Cleland’s young niece and said she would suffer if Cleland didn’t take the blame for what was going to happen next.

Cleland said the man took him to Heinricht’s apartment and Cleland watched as the man attacked Heinricht. Afterward, Cleland was told to drive to Brook Park and drop the man off at a parking lot.

“I am happy they saw through that fantastic story,” county Prosecutor Dean Holman said of the jury.

He said trying the case was tough because Heinricht’s murder happened more than three years ago and the state called more than 30 witnesses.

The defense called four witnesses — Cleland, his parents and his older sister.

Holman said Cleland only will be sentenced on one of the five murder counts.

Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.