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Heck gets 25-to-life for killing his mother; Elderly woman died on Christmas Eve

David C. Heck was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison for fatally bludgeoning his elderly mother on Christmas Eve two years ago in their Town of Tonawanda home.

State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller imposed the maximum-allowable prison term after Heck's Feb. 18 second-degree murder conviction.

Heck, 56, has been jailed since he drunkenly called 911 for help after a suicide attempt six days after the Dec. 24, 2009, bludgeoning of Ruth Heck, 87. During the trial, the jury learned that Tonawanda police rushed to the murder scene on Dec. 30, after Heck made the 911 call. Heck did not speak during the call, jurors learned, but reportedly groaned, allowing authorities to trace the call to the Heck home at 171 Conant Drive.

Police found Heck in his second-floor bedroom, and his widowed mother's body in their living room.

As he was being treated at Kenmore Mercy Hospital for a slashed wrist, the jury learned, Heck claimed his mother must have struck her head and died because she had been having increasing trouble walking.

But police found Ruth Heck's blood stains splattered on the living room ceiling from what prosecutors claimed were more than a dozen blows Heck had inflicted.

Heck had consumed more than 150 ounces of alcohol between the time of the murder and the 911 call that led to his arrest, prosecutors Christopher J. Belling and Kristen M. Walder said.

During the trial, Belling told the jury that the Hecks were about to lose their home through tax foreclosure, and Heck concluded it was best to kill his mother and then himself.

Prosecutors also called to the stand a 31-year-old former New York City man who testified that Heck admitted committing the murder when both of them were in the Erie County Holding Center in May.

Heck, who last worked more than three decades ago, had been living off his mother's Social Security checks. In addition to the prison term, Boller imposed a maximum-allowable $5,000 fine and ordered Heck to pay an additional $375 in court fees, all out of his prison wages.

Neither Heck nor defense attorney John R. Nuchereno commented during the brief sentencing. Afterward, Nuchereno said the case was "tragic" but declined further comment. Heck gets an automatic appeal under state criminal law.


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