Mower County Attorney seeks appeal after offender conviction overturned

Published 9:00 pm Monday, August 21, 2023

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The Mower County Attorney’s Office has filed notice with the Minnesota Court of Appeals that it intends to appeal a ruling by a Third District judge in the case of Terry Izeal Heggs of Albert Lea.

According to a press release issued late Monday afternoon from the Attorney’s Office, Heggs was initially found guilty by a jury in April of this year on felony predatory offender failure to register and gross misdemeanor assault. Two other charges, violation of domestic abuse no contact order and interfering with emergency call, were dismissed.

However, on Aug. 11, Judge Jeffrey Kritzer dismissed the jury convictions as well saying there was insufficient evidence in his findings regarding both charges.

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On the charge of failure to register, Kritzer cited that a “secondary address” needed in such a case is defined as “the mailing address of any place where the person regularly or occasionally stays overnight when not staying at the person’s primary address.”

In his finding, Kritzer noted that the state’s evidence was entirely circumstantial and that the only evidence that directly connected Heggs to Wing Bazaar, where police were dispatched for a domestic on Nov. 22, 2022, were envelopes with his name on them found in a converted living area/break area. 

The area reportedly included an inflatable bed, a counter, storage area, a partial bathroom and clothing, however, Kritzer added that other people at the restaurant had access to the area.

Likewise, court documents reflect that Kritzer found that evidence related to the domestic assault in which Heggs intentionally inflicted or attempted to inflict bodily harm on the alleged victim was also circumstantial.

According to court documents, when police arrived on scene in November found both Heggs and the victim covered in flour. The victim also had a bloody lip and blood on her sweatshirt and the victim’s phone was found in pieces at the front of the restaurant. 

However, court documents state that during questioning the victim claimed she didn’t remember how she got the bloody lip, saying it might have happened when she fell, despite saying during questioning that the argument with Heggs “… was somewhat physical.”

Kritzer said that the physical attributes of the fight were vague and that the only evidence of assault constituted flour being thrown in the air.

Monday’s press release said Heggs is required to register as a predatory offender dating back to a 2011 conviction in Olmsted County for criminal sexual conduct. He had previously  been convicted twice in Olmsted County for failing to register.

The appeal process is expected to take eight to 10 months. Heggs remains in Mower County Jail for sentencing on a separate conviction of predatory offender failure to register and violation of domestic abuse no contact order.

Heggs also has two cases for third degree drug sales, a case of drive-by shooting and violent felon in possession of a firearm as well as another predatory offender failure to register case that is still pending in Mower County.