SALT LAKE CITY — After more than a year of hardly any movement in the court system, the case of a Washington County man accused of kidnapping a Santa Clara man and leaving him in a remote area of Arizona where his body was found a month later reached a sudden resolution Wednesday.
Felony information was filed Monday against Francis Lee McCard, 56, of Washington City, in federal court on Monday accusing him of kidnapping resulting in death. He is accused of kidnapping David Heisler, 30, of Santa Clara, from his home on June 27, 2016, and leaving him to die in a remote area near the Utah-Arizona border.
On Wednesday, a change of plea hearing was held in St. George where a universal resolution for all of McCard's state and federal charges was reached.
In addition to pleading guilty to his federal charge, McCard pleaded guilty to charges in Arizona of murder, a second-degree felony, and kidnapping with aggravating factors, according to court records.
As part of the plea deal, when McCard is sentenced at a later date, he will receive 29 years in prison on the federal indictment, 25 years for the state murder conviction, and 21 years for the state kidnapping conviction. Also as part of the plea deal, a judge is expected to order all the sentences be served consecutively, meaning he will spend 75 years in prison before he is released.
Essentially he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
With his guilty pleas Wednesday, McCard may be used to testify against his co-defendants, Kelley Marie Perry, 32, and Tammy Renee Freeman, 54.
Perry is the former girlfriend of Heisler and the mother of his young daughter, who was 6 when Heisler was assaulted and kidnapped in 2016.
The tragic series of events began on June 13, 2016, when a judge awarded permanent custody of the girl to Heisler. Court documents say Perry was extremely upset by the judge's decision, and McCard was overheard telling her, "I will fix this."
McCard and Perry were driven to Heisler's house on June 27, 2016, by Freeman, and kidnapped Heisler, according to charging documents. They allegedly drove off with Heisler in his car.
Heisler's vehicle was found abandoned a few days later in Beaver Dam, Arizona. A bullet casing was found inside the car, as well as blood on the car's exterior.
In August of that year, after a seven-week search, Heisler's decomposed body was found by a geologist near Mount Trumbull, Arizona, along the Arizona Strip. Several court documents filed since his discovery have left it unclear whether Heisler was already dead when his body was dropped off in Arizona, or if he was injured and left to die in the Arizona heat.1 comment on this story
Perry, McCard and Freeman were charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary, first-degree felonies, and theft, a second-degree felony, in Washington County, and were later charged with murder and kidnapping in Arizona.
The plea deal was accepted by a federal judge Wednesday in St. George.
A preliminary hearing for Perry is scheduled in St. George for April 9. Freeman's next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 13. Attorneys for Freeman are attempting to prevent McCard from testifying against their client. Her lawyers had anticipated a plea deal by McCard, according to court records. Their motions are based, in part, on hand-written letters allegedly sent to Freeman from Perry while the two have been incarcerated.