San Francisco, CA — A woman who fatally stabbed her lover in a Tenderloin hotel room last year was acquitted of all charges today after a jury determined she acted in self-defense, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced.
Jurors deliberated two days before clearing 31-year-old Lisa Heng in the death of 40-year-old Matt Sheahan. Heng faced a first degree murder charge. Jurors also found her not guilty of the lesser, included charges, including second degree murder and manslaughter.
Heng, a single mother with no criminal record, wept when the verdict was read and was later embraced by jury members. Her family, who had been present throughout the trial, also cried with relief.
Adachi, who tried the case, said jurors determined Sheahan’s death was an unintentional consequence of Heng protecting herself during his second attack on her that morning.
Heng was arrested July 18, 2014, after she made a tearful 911 call to report she had stabbed Sheahan during a fight at the Monarch Hotel. Sheahan died a short time later at San Francisco General Hospital from a single wound to the heart from Heng’s 4-inch pocket knife.
During the nearly month long trial, Heng described the couple’s whirlwind, two-month relationship after meeting through a dating app. Heng testified she fell hard for the handsome and charming Marin County man, causing her to overlook his methamphetamine addiction and criminal entanglements. Heng eventually began using the drug with Sheahan and their relationship turned increasingly volatile.
On the morning of Sheahan’s death, he punched Heng twice in the jaw and strangled her, Heng testified. When Sheahan attacked her a second time, the knife Heng clutched for protection penetrated his chest, she said. Sheahan’s wound was consistent with Heng holding the knife upside down in her hand, the medical examiner testified. Heng was later taken to the hospital where doctors documented injuries to her face and neck.
Sheahan’s former girlfriend, whom he was convicted of abusing, also took the stand and testified he had hit, choked and threatened her over the course of their relationship.
Heng, who has been in jail since her 2014 arrest, will be released today.
“Lisa was forced to defend her life that terrible morning in the Monarch Hotel. The last thing she wanted was to hurt the man she loved,” Adachi said. “Thankfully, the jury considered the evidence and ended this nightmare for Lisa and her family. We are extremely relieved.”