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MOLESTATION COUNT DISMISSED GIRL RECANTS TESTIMONY AS KERN COUNTY JURORS DEADLOCK.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer

A former Lancaster state prison corrections officer acquitted of three of four charges in a child-molestation trial in Kern County will not face a second trial.

A Kern County Superior Court judge on Wednesday granted a request by prosecutors to dismiss the remaining count against 55-year-old John Heinatz of Rosamond on which jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of not guilty.

The move came after the 15-year-old victim recanted her allegations over the weekend after jury deliberations began Friday afternoon, saying, ``Let him go. He's innocent.''

``When you consider that the jury found him not guilty of three counts and the vote was 8-4 in favor of not guilty on the remaining one, and after the jury began deliberating the girl called somebody and said, 'Let him go,' it would seem to me it would be difficult to try the case with any reasonable prospect of success,'' said Heinatz's attorney, Richard Monahan.

Kern County Deputy District Attorney Carla Grabert could not be reached Wednesday for comment. Grabert had said Monday that the girl retracted her recantation and said her testimony was truthful.

Heinatz, who resigned June 29 from his prison job, was acquitted Monday of continuous sexual abuse of a child and a lesser, included offense of a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 after the jury deliberated about a day.

The jury also acquitted him of unlawful sexual intercourse, and was deadlocked on the fourth count, of a lewd act on a child between the ages of 14 and 15.

After the verdict, Heinatz's bail was reduced from more than $1 million to $7,500, and he bailed out late Monday, Monahan said. Heinatz had been in custody since his arrest in May, Monahan said.

Prosecutors had said Heinatz molested the girl over a three-year period, beginning in May 2002 when she was 12.

Heinatz first started working for the state Department of Corrections in 1995, and worked at California State Prison, Los Angeles County, since 1997.

He was placed on administrative leave with pay in May pending the outcome of the case.

Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744

karen.maeshiro(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 15, 2005
Words:361
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