A Hillsboro man is facing a charge of first-degree misdemeanor aggravated menacing following an incident early Thursday morning which allegedly involved the county prosecutor and her husband.
An affidavit filed with the Hillsboro Municipal Court stated that a deputy with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a Deadfall Road residence shortly after midnight Thursday morning.
The deputy reported responding “to an incident concerning hunting dogs on … (a) property and (an) apparent dispute with the (dogs’) owners,” according to the affidavit.
When the deputy arrived on the scene, he met with the dogs’ owner – identified as Joshua Collins – and his wife, Anneka Collins, the Highland County prosecutor. They were reportedly parked at the end of the driveway to a property owned by John Heilman, 60.
According to the affidavit, Joshua Collins “explained to (the deputy) that while (training) his coon dogs on an adjacent property, (he) heard six gunshots in the proximity of where his dogs would have been located.”
He reportedly used a GPS tracking unit to find the dogs, which indicated that they had traveled onto Heilman’s property.
Joshua Collins also reportedly said that, upon arriving at Heilman’s driveway, he observed Heilman “standing in front of his house with both of (Collins’) dogs,” the affidavit stated.
When Joshua Collins asked for the dogs, Heilman allegedly “began to cuss and yell,” according to the affidavit.
The affidavit added that Heilman allegedly “proceeded to discharge a weapon in (Joshua Collins’) direction.”
Anneka Collins was reportedly also present and advised Heilman that the sheriff’s office was being called. The affidavit stated that Heilman then allegedly “fired two more additional rounds toward the couple (who) were still positioned at the end of the driveway next to the road.”
The deputy reported that he then spoke to Heilman who, when asked, allegedly said that he had not fired his weapon at Joshua Collins.
According to the affidavit, he said “that it was a warning shot in the air and … (he) justified his actions by stating he was lawfully protecting his property from thieves and hunters (who) were damaging his property and trespassing.”
The deputy also reported speaking to a relative of Heilman, who allegedly “confirmed (Heilman’s) story, indicating (he) fired the rifle upwards,” as stated in the affidavit.
The affidavit added that the relative “not(ed) (Joshua Collins) and his wife never proceeded farther than the end of the driveway.”
Heilman was arraigned on a charge of aggravated menacing on Thursday.
Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David H. McKenna recused himself from the case. He said, “Because the people involved with this on the victim’s side are the county prosecutor and her husband, I’m going to have to recuse myself.”
McKenna added that he has called a judge in Brown County, but has not received a reply concerning that judge’s availability.
A not guilty plea was entered on Heilman’s behalf. A pretrial was tentatively set for Aug. 28, McKenna said. He added that the date could change depending on the schedule of the judge who will ultimately preside over the case.
Anneka Collins declined to comment on the incident Thursday, saying that her husband was listed as the victim in the case and that she was not. Collins said it would be inappropriate to comment on a pending case.
However, she said that if she was listed as a victim, the charge would be a felony since she is the county prosecutor.
Contacted Thursday, city prosecutor Fred Beery, without commenting specifically on the Heilman case, clarified the law in regard to the use of force or deadly force, even on one’s own property.
Beery said the use of force “must be legal, reasonable and necessary,” while the use of deadly force must be “in the defense of oneself or another from great bodily harm.”
Heilman is being held on a standard bond of $1,000 for his charge, McKenna said. While Heilman’s case is pending, he is prohibited from having any contact with the Collinses.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.