A man from Corning has pleaded guilty to the murder of a woman from his apartment complex and will spend at least 25 years in prison. Brett R. Heffner, 28, admitted to second-degree murder in Steuben County Court in front of Judge Philip Roche on Tuesday. Heffner confessed to intentionally causing the death of Keli Collins, a mother of two, on August 5, 2022, at her Walter Smith Terrace Apartment. Collins’ body was discovered naked by other residents of the apartment complex, and autopsy and laboratory results confirmed she had been strangled and sexually assaulted.
According to Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker, Heffner wanted a relationship with Collins, but she was not receptive. The investigation showed that they had no existing close relationship, but they had spent time together socializing with other friends in the apartment complex before Heffner killed her.
After the incident, Heffner was seen driving away from Collins’ apartment in her car. About an hour later, he was stopped in the victim’s car by the Hornell City Police Department in the City of Hornell. Heffner was interviewed by New York State Police Investigator Timothy Stewart and Corning City Police Lieutenant Carter Payne, during which he confessed to the murder. Heffner was originally charged with several counts, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and first-degree rape.
Heffner had a psychological evaluation that did not provide helpful information to his case. He pleaded guilty to the murder in the second degree, waiving his right to appeal. Baker said he had a long conversation with the victim’s parents, who were both on board with the plea agreement. The sentence of Heffner will be served a minimum term of 25 years and a maximum term of life in prison. He is currently being held at Steuben County jail and will be sentenced on May 16, 2023.
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