Slain Officer's Widow: I Can't Forgive Heard

Man Guilty Of Murder In FW Officer's Death Sentenced

POSTED: 3:29 pm CST November 16, 2007
UPDATED: 9:39 pm CST November 16, 2007

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A man convicted in the 2005 fatal shooting of Fort Worth police Officer Henry "Hank" Nava has been sentenced to life in prison.

The jury on Tuesday found Stephen Lance Heard, 41, guilty of capital murder and came back with the verdict on Friday, after four hours of deliberations. The jury could have given Heard the death penalty but opted for the lesser verdict.

Heard shot Nava, 39, in the head and held a 25-year-old woman hostage for three hours at a mobile home in northwest Fort Worth on Nov. 29, 2005, before surrendering to police. Nava died of his injuries two days later.

Teresa Nava said Friday she still deeply feels the loss of her husband.

"I lost my husband, my best friend, my confidante," she said. "I have to make all the decisions on my own."

Nava said she thought Heard deserved the death penalty.
"I can't forgive him," she said. "To lose somebody that you love and to have two kids that don't have a dad anymore ...

"I think now that this is over, not that we're ever going to forget Hank because we'll never do that," Nava said. "But, I think this will really help us get started on that new journey."

Fort Worth Police Chief Ralph Mendoza thanked the jury and did not appear to concerned about life or death for Heard.

"From my perspective, the objective of justice was served when the jury returned a verdict of 'guilty' in this capital murder trial,'" Mendoza said in a statement. "I applaud this jury for the time they have spent weighing the facts of the case."

The standoff began while police were trying to locate someone with outstanding warrants. Heard was found hiding in a house located in the 7000 block of Seth Barwise Street. Lt. Dean Sullivan said officers were questioning a woman outside the home when Heard exited the building and opened fire.

During closing arguments Friday morning, defense attorney Mark Daniel appealed to jurors' emotional side in urging them to spare Heard's life, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in its online edition Friday.

"Steven Heard is a human being," Daniel told the jury. "He has blood in his veins and flesh. He is one of God's creatures. Ladies and gentleman, this is a human being." [Oh, please... did they REALLY buy that shit?]

Daniel said that although Heard is an alcoholic and drug addict, he will not be a danger to society if he is locked up for the rest of his life.

But prosecutors reminded jurors about Heard's many arrests and chances for rehabilitation. They pointed to numerous letters that Heard had written from jail in which he pledges his allegiance to the Aryan Brotherhood and makes threats to a particular inmate.
"He talks his way into people's lives and talks his way out of trouble," prosecutor Betty Arvin told the jury, The Dallas Morning News reported in Friday's online edition. "Did you hear from one friend who said he's a good guy, that he has a good heart? No, because he doesn't have a good heart."

Nava joined the Fort Worth Police Department in 1999 and had worked in law enforcement since 1991. He left behind a wife and two children.

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