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Investigator testifies to Heinze's motive at mass murder trial
A Glynn County Police investigator during his second day of cross examination by defense attorneys said Saturday he believed Guy Heinze Jr. killed his father and seven others on Aug. 29, 2009 because he wanted their drugs and their money after a night of smoking crack cocaine.

After a 38 hour break, taking Sunday off, the death penalty trial is to resume today in Glynn County Superior Court to begin its second week.

When pressed Saturday by Heinze's defense attorney, Newell Hamilton, Lt. Bill Daras, lead investigator in the case, for the first time in the trial indicated a motive for why prosecutors believe Heinze, 26, was responsible for the mass murder in a trailer at the New Hope Plantation mobile home park.

In addition to allegedly killing his father, Guy Heinze Sr., 46, he is accused of killing his father's friend, Russelll Toler Sr., 44, and Toler's children -- Chrissy Toler, 22, Russelll Toler Jr., 20, Michael Toler, 19, and Michelle Toler, 15. He also is charged in the deaths of family friends Brenda Falagan, 48, and Joseph West, 30, and in the attempted murder of Byron Jimmerson, Chrissy Toler's son, who was a preschooler at the time.

"What's the motive for Mr. Heinze killing his loved ones sir," Hamilton asked Daras during his second day of testimony.

"My belief is he came back to that trailer at some point that night, wanted those pills from Michael Toler, (and) got into a confrontation with Russell Toler Sr.," which eventually led to all eight people being beaten to death, Daras said.

He supported his theory with the fact that Toler Sr. was the only victim with any money on him, $61, when police arrived to process the crime scene. Heinze had $391 when he was arrested on drug and evidence tampering charges the morning of the murders.

Daras cited information given by James Adam Davis, whom he did not identify, that at one point during the night prior to the murders, Heinze said he had $50 to use to buy cocaine at a motel in Darien.

Hamilton pointed out that Daras' theory is based on speculation and that there is no physical evidence, like a murder weapon, tying Heinze directly to the attack. He also pointed out that in a video-taped interview with police from four days after the murders, Heinze said he had been paid $490 on Aug. 28 and had detailed how he had spent roughly $100 throughout the night.

Daras said evidence points to Heinze as being the only logical person to have committed the crime because he had blood from several victims on the clothes he was wearing that morning, his hand print in Toler Sr.'s blood on a shotgun found in the trunk of the car he was driving and Heinze's prints in blood on a cell phone belonging to Michelle Toler that was also in the car.

"We don't have any evidence anyone else was there but Mr. Heinze," Daras said.

Hamilton spent much of the time during the extended cross examination grilling Daras about the protocol and processes police followed at the crime scene and later in the investigation as he continued to point out places where he said police failed to do their jobs properly.

At one point, Hamilton asked Daras about the work done by former Glynn County investigator Mike Owens, who resigned from the department within a year after the murders occurred.

Daras admitted there were some leads and evidence, like the blood spattered clothes Heinze was wearing when he was booked into jail shortly after the murders, that were mishandled by Owens. However, he stopped short of calling Owens' work negligent.

"I'd say he didn't follow protocol as opposed to major mistakes," Daras testified.

Hamilton also pressed Daras about a steak knife police recovered that they believe made the post mortem stab wounds on Russell Toler Jr.

"Is there any direct physical evidence on that knife? No. Is there any evidence (Heinze) stabbed (Toler Jr.), I can't say," Daras said.

Daras continued by again detailing the evidence that connected Heinze to the crime scene before saying, "I believe he killed those people."

Davis, the half brother of Russell Toler Jr., took the stand later in the day and testified during direct examination by the prosecution that Heinze and Toler Jr. had visited him the evening prior to the murders at the Fort King George Motel in Darien to bring him some pliers to fix the light on his car. It was there where Heinze asked Davis if he could get Heinze some cocaine and that both Toler Jr. and Heizne were acting nervous about something, Davis said. He was unsure why they were nervous.

Davis also testified during cross examination that he had never seen Heinze act violent and said his relationship with his family, which included the Toler family despite a lack of biological connections, was always good.

The district attorney is seeking the death penalty. Special Assistant John B. Johnson is the lead prosecutor.

Brunswick Judicial Circuit Judge Stephen Scarlett is the presiding judge.

Heinze has been in the Glynn County Detention Center since his arrest Sept. 5, 2009.

* Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. You can contact him at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.

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