Speaking to reporters outside the Suffolk County Courthouse in Riverhead, New York, at Mr Heuermann’s hearing on Tuesday, attorney Michael Brown addressed the trove of documents that the state has handed over.
He then mentioned that in the discovery he has reviewed so far, there has been “significant” leads provided by police, and that in one instance, officials were close to charging a different suspect.
“We were informed, among other individuals, that there was another individual that the prior district attorney of this county was prepared to charge with these crimes,” Mr Brown said, referring to former Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini.
“We haven’t received any of that documentation. We expect that it will be forthcoming, but that’s very important, extremely important to this case.”
His comments come after Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Santomartino told the court it had provided the defence the police “lead log” containing nearly 3,000 tips since the case began in 2010.
The prosecution has also handed over thousands of pages of lab reports, and date from cellphones, laptops and a palm pilot, confiscated by police in the wake of Mr Heuermann’s arrest.
Mr Heuermann, 60, was arrested on 13 July 2023, and has been charged with the 2009 and 2010 murders of Melissa Barthelemy, 24; Megan Waterman, 22; and Amber Lynn Costello, 27.
Last month, he was also charged with the 2007 murder of 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes.
At Tuesday’s hearing, prosecutors turned over a trove of documents related to the case, including nearly 3,000 police tips, to the defence.
“The leads are important,” Mr Brown told reporters about the documents after the hearing, according to Newsday.
“I think you heard the government this morning say there’s somewhere close to 3,000 leads in this case. Obviously some of those leads aren’t going to be significant at all. But some of those leads are going to be extremely significant. And they’re going to be important for us in the defence of this case. So we want to see those leads and we want to see the credibility of those leads and we want to see what follow-up the police department did in regard to those leads.”
The Manhattan architect turned suspected serial killer has been placed in isolation for his own protection.
Mr Brown told the judge that this had left the accused killer “feeling lonely and depressed”. He added that Mr Heuermann is receiving counseling.
He said Mr Heuermann has been reviewing discovery in the jail, but that his client is also suffering in isolation.
“The sheriff has been great; they’ve been permitting him to review the discovery,” Mr Brown said.
“He’s in this isolation situation … and I understand it, it’s for his own safety. You obviously don’t want someone in the jail trying to get their 15 minutes of fame, so that’s why he’s being isolated. But at the same time, he’s not getting any social interaction with anybody else other than a correction officer.”
Asa Ellerup, Mr Heuermann’s estranged wife, was not in court for Tuesday’s hearing as she had been in the past. Justice Mazzei set Mr Heuermann’s next court date for 17 April.
Mr Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to the murders of all four women, together known as the “Gilgo Four”, who all worked as sex workers and disappeared after going to meet a client.
Their bodies were found in December 2010 within one-quarter mile of each other, bound by belts or tape and some wrapped in burlap – all dumped along Gilgo Beach.
In total, the remains of 11 victims were found along the shores of Long Island in 2010 and 2011, sparking fears of one or more serial killers.