MEDINA — Shaun Cleland will be sentenced again this morning for the 2005 murder of 19-year-old David Heinricht, his estranged wife’s boyfriend.
Whether he will receive a sentence similar to the one in 2006 — 28 years to life in prison — will be up to Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler.
Last month, a jury convicted Cleland, 28, on seven counts after a two-week trial. He was found guilty on three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of kidnapping.
Although he confessed several times to killing Heinricht to Brunswick police, Cleland maintained his innocence throughout his trial and testified a “masked man” actually strangled Heinricht while he watched.
“Obviously, for a criminal defendant to describe how he committed the murder under the ruse that someone else did it as he watched is such a brazen act that the court is bound to consider that for purposes of sentencing,” according to a memo from the prosecutor’s office to the court arguing for an increased sentence.
In 2006, Cleland pleaded guilty to all seven counts and Kimbler handed down the 28-years-to-life sentence. However, the 9th District Court of Appeals threw out the pleas in 2008 and sent the case back to common pleas court.
The murder occurred on the evening of Oct. 1, 2005, in the Brunswick apartment Heinricht shared with Cleland’s estranged wife, Christina Eichelberger. Cleland entered the apartment by climbing up on the roof, jumping down to the apartment balcony and entering through a sliding-glass door. He waited for Heinricht to arrive home from work and then strangled him.
Eichelberger found Heinricht’s body at 12:40 a.m. Oct. 2. The scene was staged to look as if Heinricht hanged himself, but the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office ruled Heinricht’s death a homicide.
Cleland, who had flown in from his Army base in Hawaii on the day of the murder, was arrested the morning of Oct. 2 at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport while waiting for a return flight.
After Cleland was sentenced in 2006, he was incarcerated at the Mansfield Correctional Institution, but was transferred to the Medina County Jail in April.
Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.