By Tom Blakey — Two Oklahoma City men were bound over for trial on charges of first-degree murder Monday, after the conclusion of a preliminary hearing in which prosecutors linked the pair to the May 16 kidnapping and shooting death of 17-year-old Taylor Heintzelman in south Oklahoma City.
Cleveland County Special Judge Rod Ring ruled the state’s evidence sufficient to try Blake Booth, 20, and Michael N. Emami, also known as Mexican Mike, 23, for Heintzelman’s murder.
Booth and Emami are scheduled for district court arraignment 2 p.m. March 2 before District Judge Lori Walkley. The men face the death penalty if convicted on the murder charges.
The preliminary hearing began Sept. 23, resumed Sept. 28 and Dec. 14, and concluded Monday with the testimony of Eric Schieferstein, 18.
Schieferstein, upon being seated in the witness’s box, announced his attorney had advised him not to discuss any vehicle related to his pending felony cases.
Schieferstein recently pleaded guilty in Oklahoma County to two counts of possession of a stolen vehicle and one count of unauthorized use of a vehicle, and was sentenced to the state’s Regimented Inmate Discipline program at William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply. Schieferstein will be formally sentenced May 31 after his tenure in the “boot camp”-styled RID program.
For 45 minutes, Judge Ring sought to contact the man’s attorney, Justin Lowe. Finally, Schieferstein was placed on a cell phone to consult with Lowe, and said afterward he would answer questions concerning “the one vehicle and not the other two charges.”
Schieferstein was arrested by Oklahoma City police May 20 in possession of Heintzelman’s maroon Mitsubishi Eclipse.
When questioned by Assistant District Attorney Rick Sitzman, Schieferstein denied making a statement to police implicating Emami.
Under cross-examination by John Echols, Emami’s attorney, Schieferstein said police “woke me up with guns in my face” and “slammed me into the wall.”
“You were threatened with murder prosecution weren’t you?” Echols asked.
“Yes, sir,” he replied.
Schieferstein’s testimony ended after he admitted to Sitzman that Booth had given him Heintzelman’s car.
Echols and Debbie Maddox, Booth’s attorney, objected to issues of venue and “hearsay” testimony.
Maddox demurred to the testimony of Will Nelson, an “accomplice” who fingered Booth and Emami and “avoided criminal charges despite being involved.”
She also objected to any credence being placed on the testimony of witnesses who were using excessive amounts of methamphetamine and repeatedly staying up for days at a time.
Echols said none of the testimony connected Emami to Heintzelman’s death.
“The state failed to present evidence Mr. Emami was involved in any crime, especially murder,” he said.
Sitzman recounted the testimony of other witnesses, including Derek Self, who said he overheard Booth say he’d shot Heintzelman and then hit him with his car.
According to a court affidavit, Nelson allegedly told Booth he was having trouble with Heintzelman and was trying to get him out of his house. Booth offered to get Heintzelman out of Nelson’s house with the assistance of Emami. The men allegedly assaulted Heintzelman and abducted him from the residence May 15, binding his hands and stuffing his mouth with tape. Heintzelman also was allegedly drugged and injected with insulin, according to reports.
Sitzman said Heintzelman, the next day, was taken by the men to a location on South Portland Avenue, where he was “executed while being blindfolded.”
Heintzelman’s body was spotted May 17 by a passing motorist, who called police. He died of gunshot wounds to the temple and upper back, Sitzman said.
Ring ordered a second count, kidnapping, stricken, and merged with the first-degree murder charge.
Sitzman said a jury would have the alternative option of finding one of the defendants “vicariously responsible under the felony murder rule.”
Tom Blakey writes for the Norman (Okla.) Transcript.