'Home Alone' actor Heard found guilty of trespassing

March 21, 1997|By Cheryl L. Tan | Cheryl L. Tan,SUN STAFF

Actor John Heard Jr., best known for his role as the father in the movie "Home Alone," was found guilty yesterday in Eastside District Court on charges of trespassing and two counts of telephone misuse.

Heard, 50, was accused of harassing his ex-girlfriend, actress Melissa Leo, 36, through several phone calls he made to her Fells Point home during a four-month period last year. He called the house in attempts to speak with their 9-year-old son. He also was charged with harassing and assaulting Leo's live-in boyfriend, John A. E. Russell.

"I was found guilty of looking in a window and calling people too many times," Heard said after the verdict. "This is a father's rights issue and the use of these courts to beat up on the noncustodial parent is very, very well known."

Leo, who appears in the television series, "Homicide: Life On the Streets," which is based in Baltimore, left the courtroom without commenting.

Heard and Leo had a relationship between 1986 and 1988 and had a son, John Matthew, called Jack. The couple did not marry. A New York judge awarded custody of the boy to Leo in 1994 and allowed Heard to see him every other weekend.

Heard was acquitted of harassing and trespassing at the Roland Park school their son attends and harassing Leo and Russell. He also was found not guilty of assaulting Russell.

During the second day of the trial yesterday, 25 telephone messages Heard left at Leo's home between July 17 and Sept. 8 last year were played as evidence.

His messages, which ranged from short, three-sentence greetings to rambling soliloquies lasting several minutes, were about trying to reach his son. In many, he implored Leo to let him speak with the boy and expressed how much he loved and

missed him.

"To deprive him of a loving relationship because you can't stand to have him speaking to me on the phone it's emotional abuse, physical abuse. I think that you've sunk to an all-time low," Heard said in a recording.

Heard, who also took the stand, told the court that he had acted out of love and not malice.

"The calls weren't intended to harass and annoy they were attempts to communicate," he said.

Heard faces more than six years in prison and $1,000 in fines when he is sentenced May 13.

Pub Date: 3/21/97

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