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Man Denied New Trial for Shooting Officer

March 18, 2000

LONG BEACH — A judge on Friday refused to grant a new trial to the man convicted of shooting a Long Beach police officer.

Aaron Hefflin, 32, was convicted of attempted murder and carjacking last month by a Long Beach Superior Court jury. Hefflin shot officer Brian Watt in the head and leg in July 1997 after being pulled over for speeding in a vehicle he'd carjacked just 10 minutes earlier.

Superior Court Judge Joan Comparet-Cassani also found Friday that Hefflin was guilty of five prior felony convictions between 1987 and 1997, including one "strike" for residential burglary.

"When we charge prior convictions, we have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he, in fact, has these prior convictions," explained Deputy Dist. Atty. Barbara Turner.

Turner said the longest time Hefflin spent out of prison during the 10-year period was four months. He'd been free just 26 days at the time of the Watt shooting.

Hefflin's sentencing was postponed until Wednesday. He faces a maximum sentence of 51 years plus life in prison, Turner said.

He said Watt, who is still on the force but is not on patrol, continues to suffer from intense headaches and ringing in his ears.

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