Actor John Heard Convicted

Home Alone vs. Homicide detective in court

By Elizabeth Johns Mar 21, 1997 2:15 AMTags
Home Alone actor John Heard was convicted of telephone misuse and trespassing by a Baltimore District Court judge today, a victory for actress Melissa Leo of Homicide: Life on the Streets, Heard's ex-girlfriend and mother of their 9-year-old-son, John Matthew. He was acquitted, however, of more serious charges that he harassed Leo and assaulted her boyfriend, John Russell.

Heard, 51, faces a maximum of six years and two months in prison plus $1,100 in fines. Additional charges of invasion of privacy, harassment and trespassing at his son's school were dismissed; a separate charge that Heard stalked Leo was dropped last December.

"This is a father's rights issue," Heard said as he left the courtroom. Leo and Russell left without commenting.

After a trial with no jury, District Court Judge Barbara Waxman ruled that although Heard claimed he called Leo frequently just to speak to his son, "his actual behavior says otherwise...This is a very emotional case and a very sad one."

Evidence in the form of 25 telephone messages Heard had left for Leo were played in the courtroom today, some messages lasting a few seconds, the others, several minutes.

The actor could be heard pleading with Leo to let him speak to their son, at times berating his former girlfriend, calling her "a coward" for not allowing their son to come to the phone. At other times, Heard was remorseful, at one point saying "I'm very sorry for what I did to you...I'm not the same person that terrorized you."

Leo testified yesterday in court that she felt she was living "in a war zone," created by Heard. She said he began harrassing her after he lost a custody fight over John in 1994. Heard, she said, not only trespassed on her property constantly but made frequent and annoying visits to the boy's school--including peering into the school from his car with binoculars.

"I have not been able to focus at work," Leo said "I have been in tears on the telephone with attorneys. During this entire season I have been extremely distracted by this behavior going on."

His lawyer argued that the case was simply about Heard wanting to see his son and Leo not wanting to comply.