Sierra College stabber found guilty of attempted murder

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Former Sierra College student Paul Heintz was found guilty Thursday of attempted murder after stabbing his former best friend over a reported love triangle. Heintz could face up to 13 years in prison, according to Heintz’s attorney Tim Balcom. However, the 23-year-old will not face a life in prison term because the jury did not believe he planned the attack. The jury found the allegation that it was a willful, deliberate and premeditated attack to be untrue during the verdict issued late Thursday afternoon. Heintz was also found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury during the incident. On March 24, 2009, Heintz attacked former Sierra College student Alex Abrahamian of Auburn from behind and stabbed him in the torso five times on the Sierra College Rocklin campus. The attack stemmed from Heintz’s feelings toward Kelly Conroy, also a former Sierra College student. Conroy testified Monday that she and Heintz went on three dates around February of 2008. Conroy told Heintz that she wanted to be just friends, but Heintz struggled with being only friends, Conroy said. Months after Conroy and Heintz dated is when Conroy and Abrahamian began dating and the men’s friendship suffered. According to Balcom, Heintz considered Abrahamian to be his best friend prior to the alleged love triangle. After the attack, Abrahamian was taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center where he underwent three surgeries – two on his abdomen and one on his hand. “I really didn’t know what was going to happen – if I was going to live or die,” Abrahamian said. According to jury foreman Matt Doyle, the jury struggled with the questions of whether the attack was premeditated and if there was an intent to murder. Doyle said the jury asked for read backs of testimony from Heintz as well as two women who helped Abrahamian after the stabbing. Doyle said the read backs helped clarify information for the jury. “We felt there was an attempt to kill,” Doyle said. “It was a tough case, very emotional. It was very hard to take the heart component out of it and look at the law.” Prosecutor Jeff Wilson could not be reached for comment Friday, but during his closing arguments Wednesday, Wilson asked the jury how a man can stab another man he hates, five times without wanting to kill him. “Paul Heintz was an angry, jealous man who was obsessed with a woman who did not love him and he decided to kill the man she did love,” Wilson said. Outside the courthouse, Balcom said because the jury found the allegation that it was a willful, deliberate and premeditated attack to be not true, it will shave decades off Heintz’s sentencing. If Heintz had been convicted of the allegation, he could have faced life in prison, Balcom said. “He doesn’t have to spend his life in prison,” Balcom said Thursday. Although sad with the verdict, Balcom said he respects the jury’s decision. “As horrific as it was, I truly believe he never intended to kill Alex and that was one of the elements,” he said. Heintz’s sentencing date will be determined at a later date when Abrahamian can be present.