A Kiowa County jury deliberated for less than an hour on Wednesday before returning a guilty verdict against Jordan Michael Heathco, 31, of Hobart, on charges of first degree murder and shooting with intent to kill.
Heathco shot and killed Benjamin Keith Wagner Zotigh, 24, of Hobart, on the evening of Jan. 4, 2011, at a residence in Hobart. He then turned the gun on Matthew Dean and fired at him while Dean was wrestling the gun away from him.
According to District Attorney John Wampler, the trial primarily focused on the mental state of the defendant at the time of the shooting as the defense asked the jury to find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity. Wampler said that the evidence presented to the jury showed that the defendant was invited to the residence where several friends were gathered and that within 30 minutes, the defendant suddenly stood up from the table, without any altercation or provocation, and shot Wagner Zotigh five times and then turned and shot at Dean. He then left the residence and drove to the Kiowa County Sheriff’s office where he turned himself in and told officers, “I have killed several people.”
The six man/six woman jury was seated on Tuesday of last week, and heard testimony through Friday before recessing for the weekend. The winter storm delayed continuance of the trial until Wednesday when the jury heard closing arguments and began deliberating around 12:30 p.m.
By 1:30 p.m., the jury indicated they had a verdict and returned to the courtroom for announcement. They found Heathco guilty on both counts and recommended the maximum punishment of Life Without Parole for Murder, and Life for the Shooting With Intent to Kill charges.
Formal sentencing was set by District Judge Richard Darby for April 3.
Prosecuting the case for the State of Oklahoma were Assistant District Attorneys Rick Marsh of Hobart, and David Thomas of Altus. Representing the defendant was Mack Martin of Oklahoma City.