State prosecutors faced with increasing death threats - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

State prosecutors faced with increasing death threats

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Albert Heitzmann Albert Heitzmann
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PHOENIX -

There used to be a few threats a year in Maricopa County. But last year there were 30 death threats against local prosecutors. And this year, they've already had seven.

"I believe that she is evil," says inmate Albert Heitzmann. "She protects the public from criminals for the same reason the Klu Klux Klan protected white women from aggressive Negros 100 years ago."

Albert Heitzmann is behind bars, accused of plotting to assassinate a Maricopa County prosecutor. For her safety, we're not naming her.

"I am planning to do bad things to [prosecutor's name]. Bad thing number one I'm planning to petition for disbarment, bad thing number two I am planning to sue her in federal court for malicious prosecution, and bad thing number three I'm planning to include her in my next book."

Back in 2007, Heitzmann served two years for perjury. He was convicted of lying on the stand to help a friend on trial for murder. That man, Paul Speer, was found guilty and is now on death row.

Heitzmann still blames the prosecutor for putting him behind bars. Last year, investigators say Heitzmann wrote a letter, saying he had plans to assassinate the prosecutor.

"If I were to go and gun down [victim] that would make her an instant martyr. That's the last thing I want... I have no intention of going after her directly. I'm not going to make any obscene phone calls or slash her tires or anything like that. That's not part of my plan for her."

Heitzmann claims this is all a big misunderstanding and denies being involved in a murder plot against the prosecutor.

No one knows why death threats against prosecutors are on the rise.

"This is something that we haven't seen before," says Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney.

That is, inmates hoping to get out of jail or get revenge by killing the prosecutor involved their case.

"I get pissed off, I've got folks who are not the best paid and they're working very hard for the safety and well being of our community," says Montgomery.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery is also a target.

"I had two threats against me last year. If I'm having to deal with threats made against me okay, I can roll with that, but when it started involving friends and family members, that's when people are crossing the line."

When death threats happen, prosecutors are put into a type of protective custody. For their safety, detectives won't tell us what that involves.

"We take those threats very seriously each and every time," says Montgomery.

And with the growing number of death threats recently, prosecutors and those who protect them are on high alert.

MCSO Detective Brain Mackiewicz is in charge of investigating death threats and protecting the prosecutors who get them.

"Most of the inmates think they're going to benefit from making the threat," he says.

Instead, they end up serving more time in jail, facing additional charges. But eventually that inmate will get out of jail. Some prosecutors are being trained on how to shoot and carry guns -- a way to protect themselves against the growing number of death threats against them.

Heitzmann is scheduled to be sentenced in a few weeks on a weapons misconduct charge. Jurors couldn't agree on whether or not he had threatened to physically hurt a county prosecutor.

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