SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 36-year-old man was convicted today of going on a rampage on a June morning three years ago, attacking four people in two Orange County cities, including a Fullerton police officer.
Kenneth Alexander Heimlich was convicted of two counts of robbery, one count of battery with serious bodily injury and two counts of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury -- all felonies -- as well as with misdemeanor counts of assault on a peace officer and assault. Jurors, who deliberated for about a day, also found true sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury, leaving a victim comatose or paralyzed and inflicting great bodily injury on another victim. A mistrial was declared on an attempted murder charge when jurors deadlocked on that count.
Heimlich is also awaiting trial in a separate case alleging he failed to stop at a hit-and-run accident with injury.
``The defendant is charged with victimizing four people in two cities on one day,'' Deputy District Attorney Austin Young said in his opening statement. Heimlich rode a bus with the first alleged victim, Jeffrey Fitzgerald, about 7:40 a.m. June 12, 2019, according to Young. They both got off at 8:08 a.m. ``without incident'' in Buena Park as Fitzgerald retrieved his bike from the front of the bus' rack, Young said. The two were standing along the curb at a bus stop at Beach Boulevard and Orangethorpe Avenue when Heimlich shoved the then-65-year-old Fitzgerald into traffic, Young said. The prosecutor showed jurors dash-cam video from an approaching bus that showed the defendant attack Fitzgerald. ``As Mr. Fitzgerald was minding his own business, defendant got up from the bus bench, pushed him into oncoming traffic, kicked him in the head and violently stomped on his skull'' five times, Young said.
Heimlich picked up the victim's bike and rode away from the scene as others helped the victim out of the road and onto the sidewalk, the video shows. Fitzgerald was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where he was placed in a medically induced coma for a few days, Young said. Fitzgerald has sustained injuries to his brain that affect the way he talks and thinks and leaves him reliant on a cane to walk for assistance, Young said. About five miles away, two hours later, Fullerton police were dispatched to a bus depot at 123 S. Pomona Ave.
Heimlich attacked then-56-year-old Vincent Valenzuela and took his wallet, Young said. When then-17-year-old Dominic Jebrail attempted to intercede on behalf of Valenzuela, Heimlich punched the teen in the mouth twice, Young said.
Valenzuela was hospitalized for his wounds, Young said. After Officer Davis Crabtree arrested Heimlich at the scene, the defendant took off his shoes and whipped them at the officer, striking him in the right thigh and left shoulder, Young said. Heimlich's attorney, Tom Nocella of the Alternate Defender's Office, did not dispute the attacks happened, but said his client has been diagnosed with schizoaffective and bipolar disorders and the defendant could not have formed any intent to kill Fitzgerald.
``He didn't get up with any intent that day to attack anyone,'' Nocella said. ``The evidence is not going to show any intent to kill.''
``He's dealt with these issues his entire life,'' Nocella said.