The details of a brief but fiery love affair that ended in bloodshed and death in a Tenderloin hotel one July morning last year were on display Thursday as Lisa Heng took the stand in her own trial for murder.
Heng, 31, stands charged with murder for the stabbing death of Matt Sheahan, her 40–year–old boyfriend from Marin County, who she allegedly stabbed in the heart July 21, 2014.
The trial, which opened last month, cast the killing as either the act of a jealous paramour or a woman defending herself against a meth-addled predator and womanizer.
“She killed him because she was angry with him,” prosecutor Rebecca Wagner said in her opening statement. “She stabbed him to death.”
But Wednesday, Public Defender Jeff Adachi opened his case by putting Heng on the stand, where she called into question much of the prosecution’s characterization of the pair’s relationship.
“I was … sort of soul searching of what I really wanted to do,” she said, referring to when she met Sheahan. She had just moved back into her parent’s apartment after being laid off from a seven-year medical records job and then losing her apartment in Daly City.
She described Sheahan as a carefree man. For Heng, who grew up in a small Tenderloin apartment with little money and has raised her daughter alone, he gave her a new outlook.
Heng said she saw red flags from the start — methamphetamine use, his work driving prostitutes — but she pushed down those feelings because she was drawn to Sheahan.
“I was fascinated and intrigued with Matt, and I fell in love with him,” she said. “It felt like he’s my soul mate.”
The summer affair started online in June but soon led to meetings in hotels, meth use, frequent photo and video sessions and what she called their “A++++” sex life.
On their second date, Sheahan took Heng to Marin County and snuck into a condominium’s outdoor hot tub. Heng said she didn’t want to get in and she didn’t like that Sheahan lit up a meth pipe.
Soon she also found out about his former porn work, his drug dealing and his driving work for prostitutes.
Sheahan was also open about his violent past, she said. He told her once that he’d gotten in a fight with someone who he knocked to the ground. The fall resulted in a coma, which led to the victim’s death.
“Doesn’t that put a big red light in your head?” Adachi asked Heng.
His behavior did raise red flags, but Heng testified she liked him so much she pushed away such thoughts.
Soon enough, she too started smoking methamphetamine with Sheahan, she said. She also role played with him, often playing a part they dubbed the “Bad Bitch.”
Many of the exchanges between them, used by the prosecution to make her look like the aggressive and jealous lover, came from playing that part, not from reality, she claimed.
Heng denied that she plotted to kill Sheahan because she was jealous of him, as the prosecution had tried to argue.
Testimony from Heng is expected to continue Thursday in Judge Tracie Brown’s courtroom.