Name-change bid has Macon man, prosecutors at odds

awomack@macon.comSeptember 20, 2010 

What’s in a name?

Shelby Marwan Heggs admits he made some mistakes when he was younger and hung out with the wrong crowd.

Now, at age 27, Heggs has rededicated his life to God and wants to change his name to Saint Jody Almighty Bedrock to reflect his new life.

“I wanted a name that everybody would know when they were talking to me that they were talking to a man of God,” said Heggs, a Macon resident. “I wanted that to be expressed in my name.”

He filed a petition in Bibb County Superior Court in April, soon after his faith decision, to request that his name be legally changed.

The Bibb County District Attorney’s Office is opposing Heggs’ request, though, prosecutor John Regan said.

“It may be (Heggs) attempting to hide his criminal record,” he said.

An aggravated battery charge against Heggs is scheduled for presentment to the Bibb County grand jury in October. He also has past convictions for DUI and possession of marijuana, Regan said.

The prosecutor said he couldn’t discuss details of Heggs’ aggravated battery charge because of its pending nature.

It’s not uncommon for judges to hear name-change requests. People often file petitions to change their name after a divorce, for example, or because they want to adopt the name of a step-parent who raised them. In most states, a person can’t choose a name that is intended to mislead — adopting a celebrity’s name, for instance — or incite violence, or one that is a racial slur, a threat or an obscenity.

Under Georgia law, a request for a name change can be denied if the person is trying to hide a criminal record, Regan said.

Heggs said the aggravated battery charge stems from a fight with his neighbor in which he fought back in self-defense.

He said he’s not trying to hide from anyone by changing his name. Instead, he wants the name change to be a way for him to disassociate himself from his old life.

A court hearing was held Wednesday on Heggs’ request, but no ruling has been made in the case.

Although his name hasn’t been changed in the eyes of the law, Heggs said he’s already calling himself by his new name.

His friends and family already call him Saint Jody.

“I wanted to start fresh,” he said.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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