Murder trial begins in case of Marin man stabbed to death by lover in Tenderloin hotel

She was hysterical. Her crying voice drowned out his moaning.

“We got into a fight, and I stabbed him and he’s bleeding,” she said to the 911 dispatcher. When police told her that he’d died ­­hours after her arrest,­­ she curled up in a ball in the interrogation room and began to wail.

How and why the pair’s brief affair ended in a fatal encounter in a hotel room on Geary Boulevard last year is unclear. But now it’s the subject of a murder trial.

What’s clear is that Matt Sheahan, a 40­-year-­old Marin County man, was stabbed in the heart one early July morning in 2014 by his girlfriend, 30 year-old San Franciscan Lisa Heng.

Two versions of Sheahan’s death were presented to a San Francisco jury Thursday in the murder trial of Heng before Judge Tracie Brown. Either Sheahan’s death in the Monarch Hotel came about because Heng was in a fit of jealous rage, or Heng was defending herself against a meth-crazed and violent boyfriend.

“She killed him because she was angry with him,” prosecutor Rebecca Wagner said. “She stabbed him to death.”

San Francisco resident Lisa Heng, 30, is accused of fatally stabbing Matt Sheahan, a 40­-year-­old Marin County man. Courtesy photo
San Francisco resident Lisa Heng, 30, is accused of fatally stabbing Matt Sheahan, a 40­-year-­old Marin County man. Courtesy photo

What led up to the fight and stabbing, Wagner said, was a series of angry text messages. Heng berated Sheahan for being late and lying.

Wagner said Heng dominated in the relationship. Heng’s jealousy led her to try and hack Sheahan’s phone for pictures of other women. That jealous streak, evident in text messages that even mentioned stabbing him days before his death, grew to a boiling point.

The two had been fighting over text messages the night before they ended up together in a hotel room. Wagner read the profanity­-laced texts in court.

According to Wagner, the couple was squabbling in the hotel over photos deleted from both of their phones. They argued and even got into a physical scuffle, but finally calmed down. But when Sheahan began to hit himself in the face, Wagner said it “set off” Heng.

Heng then went to her purse for her knife, Wagner said. “What are you going to do, stab me?” Sheahan said, according to Wagner. “Stab me, stab me.”

That, according to Wagner, prompted Heng to straddle Sheahan and drive the four­-inch blade into his chest.

An autopsy photo of Sheahan’s body, displayed in court, showed the several-­inch long blade mark on his left chest, where the knife entered.

Sheahan died several hours later after failed attempts to save his life at San Francisco General Hospital.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi painted a picture at odds with the prosecution.

Heng, born to Cambodian immigrant parents, was a naive girl in love with a methamphetamine-addicted but glamorous boyfriend, who she accidentally stabbed to death when he came at her during a crazed moment of withdrawal.

“Lisa was a fool for love,” said Adachi, who went on to describe their meeting online and courtship. Sheahan was an older man from Marin County who was exciting and unlike anyone Heng had dated before ­­and she was star-struck.

Even their sexual relationship was a revelation for Heng, Adachi said. They role-played and took photos and video of one another. She would play an English-accented woman, a sexy night club singer and what they dubbed the “bad bitch.” He would play the thug or the effeminate frenchman.

All of this, Adachi said, explains the mischaracterization of Heng. The texts mentioning stabbing Sheahan ­­— said to be signs of her premeditation ­­— allegedly instead referred to her using a dildo on him as a way to get back for his lateness.

Sheahan had two sides, Adachi said. Heng didn’t see the darker side at first.

“He wasn’t a nice guy,” said Adachi, who noted his criminal record and his work transporting prostitutes across The City.

“He was a meth addict,” Adachi said, displaying photos of Sheahan smoking and shooting meth.

It was Sheahan’s addiction that finally killed him, Adachi said. Sheahan allegedly wasn’t laying on the bed, like the prosecution said. Instead, he was “tweaking” from withdrawals and had barged into her hotel room in search of drugs.

Heng wielded the knife to get him out of her room after he’d assaulted her twice already. The last time he came at her, she reacted without thinking. The knife went into his chest, Adachi said.

“She acted because she was scared for her life, and he’d never been violent before,” Adachi said. “When she held the knife, she held it only to get him away.”

The trial is scheduled to continue Friday morning. Heng remains in County Jail.