Court case taking shape for man accused of Pawcatuck strangling

February 27, 2019

A Pawcatuck man charged with the Jan. 12 strangling death of William Z. Heine at the Elm Tree Inn made his first appearance Wednesday in the New London Judicial District court where major crimes are tried.

Bryan T. Mitchell, 30, is charged with first-degree manslaughter. He stood with attorney Kevin C. Barrs from the public defender’s office during Wednesday’s brief court appearance but is expected to be appointed another attorney prior to his next court date.

Barrs entered a not-guilty plea on Mitchell’s behalf, and Judge Hillary B. Strackbein continued the case to March 13.

Members of the victim’s family, accompanied by Stonington police Detective Greg Howard, who had investigated the case, attended the court appearance and met with Victim Services Advocate Stephanie Barber.

According to police, Heine and Mitchell lived in separate apartments at the Broad Street boarding house in Pawcatuck.

When police were called to the inn on Jan. 15, officers found Heine on the floor in his apartment, lying on his back with two pillows under his head, a blanket pulled up to his chin and a red sobriety coin on his abdomen under his hand. Police said they noticed numerous half-circle marks on his chest and neck.

The Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner has ruled Heine’s cause of death was “neck compression” with other significant conditions as “intoxication by the combined effects of ethanol and Fentanyl.”

Police said they obtained footage that shows Mitchell entering and leaving the area of Heine’s apartment multiple times. Mitchell told police he became angry with Heine for pulling his hair during a sex act and choked him.