Heater to serve life in prison

BUCKHANNON – Jesse Lee Heater was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Monday for the murder-for-hire slaying of Joshua Oberg.

In June, Heater was convicted of murdering Oberg, 29, in exchange for $5,000. Rodolpho “Chino” Villagomez Correa, who is set to stand trial Dec. 9, allegedly paid Heater and Robert Eugene Siron III to kill Oberg because Oberg was reportedly having an affair with Correa’s wife, according to court reports.

Siron pleaded guilty in December to one felony count of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to conceal a deceased human body. Oberg’s body was found in July 2012 buried in a shallow grave along Bull Run Road in a remote area of Upshur County.

In addition to the life sentence for first-degree murder, Heater also was sentenced to one to five years for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, one to five years for conspiracy to dispose of a deceased human body and one to five years for disposing of a deceased human body.

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Kurt Hall called Heater “a very violent and dangerous person.”

“I’ve read and considered the pre-sentencing report. Murdering someone because they slept with someone else’s wife if one of the most ridiculous criminal acts I could ever contemplate,” Hall said.

“To take someone out and execute them for $5,000 is not acceptable,” he added.

Upshur County Prosecuting Attorney Jake Reger recommended the sentences be served consecutively. He said he believed Heater would have a high chance of being a repeat offender if he was ever allowed to be free.

“In my almost 22 years, I don’t believe I’ve ever dealt with anyone who is more dangerous to the community,” he said.

Hall agreed and ordered all of the sentences to be served consecutively.

“The court believes you are a person who should never leave the prison system,” he said.

Prior to the sentencing, Heater attempted to convince Hall to grant him new counsel, citing concerns over how his case was handled by defense attorney Tom Dyer.

Heater told the court he was denied the opportunity to take a polygraph test and was not permitted to speak to a private investigator.

Hall said Dyer is a competent attorney, and Heater’s concerns were matters of trial strategy. The time to address such issues is in the appeal process, not during sentencing, he said.

Hall also indicated he believed Heater’s request to be assigned new counsel was as an attempt to delay sentencing.

“I’m of the opinion that you’re trying to delay the inevitable here today,” he said.