On Friday, April 9, 2021, Emily Jo Heckler, charged with one count of First-Degree Murder in the death of her step-mother, Marion Heckler, appeared before the Honorable James W. Courrier, Jr. with her attorneys, Jeremy Cooper and Brent Easton. The State appeared by Savannah Hull Wilkins, Prosecuting Attorney. Also present in the courtroom was Sergeant Teter of the Tucker County Sheriff’s Office along with numerous members of Ms. Heckler’s family. At the onset of the hearing, the parties informed the Court that they had reached an agreement with respect to resolution of Ms. Heckler’s case. Specifically, Emily Heckler requested that the Court accept a plea of “Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Illness” and the State consented to the entry of that plea.
The Court questioned Ms. Heckler regarding her understanding of her rights, and as to whether or not she was entering this plea freely and voluntarily. After this inquiry, the Court accepted her plea of “Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Illness.” Consequently, there will no longer be a jury trial in this matter, and instead Ms. Heckler will be committed to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Resources for placement at an appropriate mental health facility. Jurisdiction of the Court will last for the maximum amount of time she would be facing if convicted of this offense at trial, which would be for the rest of her natural life.
Prosecuting Attorney Savannah Wilkins issues the following statement: “This was not a decision that was made lightly, nor one that was made alone. Numerous mental health experts were consulted as part of this decision, as well as Marion Heckler’s adult children, and Sergeant Teter as the investigating and arresting officer. All parties involved agreed and consented to this resolution. Now, three years following her death, Marion Heckler’s family, friends, and loved ones will hopefully have comfort and closure to this tragedy. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office would like to recognize the Tucker County Sheriff’s Office and all other assisting agencies for their hard work and dedication to this case.”