Hearing delayed for convicted murderer seeking retrial

A decision to retry a Clayton County convicted murderer was delayed again on Thursday.

Eric Tramaine Heard, found guilty in March 2009 of the murder of Shareecka Pitts during a 2009 home invasion, has been seeking a retrial.

Heard’s attorney cites ineffective assistance in her plans to raise issues with some aspects of the Clayton County police investigation and with witness statements from the victim’s sister, Lachuada Pitts.

“This case is based on eye-witness identification,” attorney Pamela Stephenson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by phone on Wednesday. “The thrust is the reliability of the witness.”

On July 29, 2009, police say Heard and Shaleek Frazier forced their way into Pitts’ home while she was there with her two children and her sister, Lachuada Pitts.

During the trial, Lachuada Pitts said the two men demanded money, and when they didn’t get what they wanted, Heard pushed Shareecka Pitts into a closet and shot her in the stomach.

But she changed her identification of who was with Heard.

“She recanted her identification of Frazier then identified Antoine Weems,” Stephenson said. “When you start not being sure of one suspect or another, it raises questions.”

Charges against Frazier were dropped, but Heard was found guilty of malice murder, battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and several counts of felony murder, aggravated assault and weapons possession charges. He was sentenced to two life sentences plus 115 years in prison.

Neil Smith, who tried the case originally, filed the motion for a new trial within weeks of the sentencing, and Stephenson took over in August.

Heard was returned to the Clayton County Jail from the Smith State Prison in southeast Georgia in September, according to court records.

Clayton County Chief Superior Court Judge Deborah Benefield postponed the hearing to an undetermined date. The hearing had been continued earlier in the year, according to court documents.