A murder in Nevada

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LEB

climber
Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 19, 2006 - 02:29pm PT
For years I have collected owl paintings by a certain artist named Richard C Hinger. I sometimes find them on ebay or whatever. They are rather charming lithographs and usually not too expensive. They are reasonably well known as the "Hinger owl collection." This artist (born 1937), a former Marine artist, became relatively well known for said owl paintings when he sold the rights to them to some home decor firm. Doing so made him somewhat famous by virtue of these owl paintings

Today I was doing a search on google and came to find out that this particular artist was convicted (in Nevada) for murder and is currently serving four (count them four!) consectutive life sentences for murdering two men, Scott Rehn and Jimmy Sorenson. Apparantly a woman was involved in the crime as well - one Marnie Peot. I must say, this little tidbit of info sort of takes some of the charm out of my small collection of owl paintings.

I did a google search which did not reveal much about the case except that his appeal in 2002 for incompetent counsel was denied. Does anyone - perhaps living in Nevada - have details of said case. Sort of eerie. Also how does one serve four consectutive live sentences for two murders. Shouldn't it be two consectutive life sentences? When speaking of self-defense (as a justification for murder), how does this issue get muddled? Would not it be rather cut and dry meaning the the circumstances under which self-defense would be applicable? I am sort of confused about this aspect of the case, as well.

Lois
Ouch!

climber
Mar 19, 2006 - 03:17pm PT
Being Nevada, maybe he went double or nothing with the judge....and lost.
Rajmit

Social climber
Cambridge, MA
Mar 19, 2006 - 03:28pm PT
He tried to justify the killings as a worldwide assault against aliens. The appeal was denied because it was he that was incompetent, not the lawyers.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 19, 2006 - 03:37pm PT
Looks like he and Marnie both went up the river for the murders. You did better than me at finding our anything at all about it the crime or who was involved...

http://prisonsfoundation.org

Richard Hinger, Three Teepees / High Desert State Prison, Indian Springs, Nevada

Richard Hinger, 68, works in acrylic, gouache, and watercolor. Before his incarceration his work was shown in California fine art galleries. He had, he reports, several solo exhibits in Los Angeles and Houston, and he owned a Houston art gallery. In addition to his personal artwork, he now creates prison murals and teaches English to fellow inmates. His watercolors depicting teepees "mean freedom to me," he explains.

LqdSlvr

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Mar 19, 2006 - 03:38pm PT
Lois, I don't know anything about the case, but I can answer a couple of your general legal questions. First, life sentences can get handed out for other things as well, such as conspiracy ior kidnapping. Perhaps he kidnapped, then murdered these people. Two counts of eachwould be four felonies, each of which can give a life sentence.

On the self-defense issue, that is RARELY cut and dried. If two people have a long history of animosity and both carry guns, then there is only one survivor of the encounter, it becomes a fact question for the jury. Also, there are "reasonableness" issues. A person, in most states to win on self-defense, must prove that he or she had a reasonable fear for his life. There are a LOT of factors that go into that question that prevent it from being clear cut. Perhaps the decedent didn't actually have a weapon at the time, but the shooter THOUGHT he did. Was this belief reasonable? Depends on a lot of facts and is anyhting but clear cut.

Anyway, hope that helps clarify some of the issues.

Jimmie
JuanDeFuca

Big Wall climber
Stoney Point
Mar 19, 2006 - 04:03pm PT
I interact with many artists. Many have mental health issues.
I think more so then the population at large.

I am becoming a fine artist.


Juanito
LEB

climber
Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2006 - 04:03pm PT
LdqSlvr,

Yes it does clear up quite a few issues and I am glad you posted the response because I have been wondering about it. What you posted certainly does explain the 4 life sentences albeit none was without parole. How and where can one go to find specific details about a case - for example this case?

Also if a person does kill another in true self defense, does he normally get acquitted for it or is the burden of proof upon the one who did the killing. Perhaps what I am really asking is what percentage of persons who kill to truly defend themselves are then convicted of murder or manslaughter? If he did kill self-defense would it be likely that he would be acquitted or more likely that he would be convicted.

Healyje,

Thanks for the posting. I actually found that painting and website which is how I learned (much to my surprise and shock) that this artist was in prison. Sort of a shock, wouldn't you say - here one goes about having warm and fuzzy feelings all these years and then suddenly discovers the harsh realities of it all. The painting is sort of nice as were his owl paintings but if he truly murdered someone, I am not sure I would want to be patronizing his art. On the otherhand if he were falsely convicted, that would be another matter. How does one find out details?

Lois
Ouch!

climber
Mar 19, 2006 - 04:13pm PT
Lois, if you could somehow contact the aliens, perhaps they might tell you. But then, you would probably get locked up too.

Maybe Juan and Rajmit can put you in touch with them.
LEB

climber
Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2006 - 04:15pm PT
Common, Ouch. I am serious. I want to know the scope on this one. How does one find out about such things? Surely someone here knows the how and/or why of it all. I found that one post which explained the legal ins and outs VERY helpful.

Lois
Ouch!

climber
Mar 19, 2006 - 04:31pm PT
Lois, check for one of the sites that document legal proceedings and you might find a trial transcript.

edit. If you know the dates of trials and appeals, you might locate it on FindLaw site in the Nevada State section.
Rajmit

Social climber
Cambridge, MA
Mar 19, 2006 - 05:21pm PT
Juan, a great example of a mentally-ill artist is Adolf Hitler. Need I say more?
LEB

climber
Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2006 - 07:52pm PT
Actually, this is a classic case of "more information than I wanted to know." Imagine holding warm and fuzzy feelings all these years about particualr art work one is enjoying as a favorite - only to find out that the artist is a convicted felon serving four consecutive life sentences for murder and related crimes. I had a habit of putting up one or more of these owls in any of the various spots in which I lived or worked. It was rather "my thing" as it were.

Now, it sort of takes the edge off a bit on one's desire to acquire these lithographs. On the other hand, he painted the owl pics 30 years earlier, presumably long before entering a life of crime. Now that my little bubble has been bursted, I would *still* love to find out more details concerning these events but thus far nothing I search has been productive. Evidently the crime and subsequent trial was not noteworthy enough to make any of the crime sites (I wonder how they choose what crimes/scenerios they will cover?) although you might think it would have given his fame with respect to the owl lithographs (Hinger owls) Any information on these issues from persons who are familiar with the criminal investigation scene would be VERY much appreciated

Lois
Holdplease2

Big Wall climber
Yosemite area
Mar 19, 2006 - 08:05pm PT
Maybe just like the owl doesn't make the murder good, the murder doesn't make the owl bad.

In all our lives, none of us are just owl makers or just murderers. Every one of us is both. Even if we pretend that it isn't true.
LEB

climber
Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2006 - 08:21pm PT
Hold,

True and insightful at that. Besides, given the scenario one can always get all maudlin and mawkish and speculate on how he fell into the "wrong path" in life. Generally, however, I am not particularly so inclined in my thinking but, hey, "whatever works."

Truth be told, I actually would even like to purchase his 3-teepees painting sold on that prison artwork site but I'll be damned if I am going to get all starry eyed and fuzzy over that concept. Let's not forget that two people got murdered in all of this and that they are the true "victims" as it were. I feel that by purchasing his prison art work, I would somehow be betraying the victims of his crime. Of course, if it really WAS "self defense" as he claimed, that would be another matter.

I personally would like to hear from some of the lawyers on this site as to exactly how many people who truly kill someone in self-defense actually get convicted of murder. My guess is that the opposite is likely true but then I am not a legal expert. Could some of our lawyers and other experts here in criminal justice comment on that issue. What is the likelihood that a person who truely kills in self defense then subsequently gets convicted of murder?

Lois
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Mar 19, 2006 - 08:46pm PT
Yeah...it is a bit of a bubble-buster, when you find out "someone" you admired is a deeply flawed human, and not only that, has gained notoriety for the fact....

The first time I ever learned about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome(FAS) was in reading a book called "The Broken Chord," by Michael Dorris. It was a true story of a young native american man, a college prof who, wanting a son, adopted a native american boy as a baby. He too, had no idea about FAS until that time.....

It is an incredibly heart-wrenching tale of patience, frustration, agony, exctasy - the whole gamut of emotions. The man went on to author a few more books, which told stories of his finding the love of his life(Louise Erdrich, also native american and an award-winning author herself), marrying her, the two(if I remember correctly) daughters in the family, and more on his son as he comes of age and grows toward young adulthood, heavily disabled with FAS. The details of that disorder are utterly astounding. The kid is so damaged that he can't keep time straight enough to save his school lunch sandwich till noon and instead eats it on the bus, every morning, because he finds himself with a sandwich in a bag, every morning, on the bus.

The boy dies, as a young man, when he is walking to work, as a busboy, early one morning, and simply heads right across a multilane highway. Because he doesn't understand the relatiosnhip between himself and the cars on the raod.

What a shock and a half it was to find out that "saint of a man"(the author) was arrested and jailed for sexually abusing the daughters. Repeatedly, for years. And for physically abusing their mother, his wife. We'll never know what he did with the son he made a living off writing about, because the kid couldn't have explained if he was being molested or abused in the first place, and he has died before the "real life" story unfolds.

Oh, and it turned out that Dorris couldn't verify his heritage either. He was on no tribal records, and had, apparently, made up his MicMac ancestry.

On the other end of the spectrum, I remember my first exposure to "things aint what they seem, sometimes, when I found out, to my shocked dismay, that S.E. Hinton, author of "The Outsiders" was not an hot ex-hoodlum guy turned great writer, but..... a lady.
LEB

climber
Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2006 - 08:53pm PT
Happi, thanks for sharing your insights. In this instance,
I am really not sure what is the ethical approach in this matter. Here is a copy and paste of an email I received from the prison artists association - followed by a copy and paste of the response I sent to him. Does anyone have any insights as to what is the right thing to do in this scenerio? I somehow feel that if I purchase his teepee painting which I otherwise like and would do so in other circumstances, it is ethically unfair to the victims of his crime. Any insights or opinions forum members might want to offer on this matter would be certainly appreciated.

Here goes the copy and paste of the email I received from the organization and my response to it

Dear Lois,

Thank you for your thoughtful email and the question
you raised.

Please know that it is our policy not to inquire about
the reason our artists are in prison. Suffice it to
say that they have made mistakes, sometimes big ones.
In some cases the judicial system made the mistake,
but we don't disparage it either.

The bottom line is what we do with the money our
nonprofit gets for the art. Proceeds from sales go
to services that focus on education, prisoner
rehabilitation and preparation for release, and groups
that assist victims of crime. The Prisons Foundation
is a cosponsor of the 15th Annual National Forum on
Victims’ Rights.

We hope that you will chose to support our work as we
strive for a safer and more human society.

With kind regards,

Dennis

Dennis Sobin, Associate
Prisons Foundation
1718 M Street NW, #151
Washington, DC 20036
www.PrisonsFoundation.org
Dennis@PrisonsFoundation.org
202-393-1511

Here is a copy and paste of my response to him

Dear Mr. Sobin,

I am still giving the matter serious thought. I need to be sure that in doing so I would not be somehow disloyal to the victims of the crime. Murder is a very serious matter. It is easy to get warm and fuzzy about "reform" but two people are no longer experiencing the joys of living. I must weigh my desire for work from what was a favorite artist against my ethical obligations to the victims of a crime as serious as murder! I am seeking more information such that I can make an ethical decision on this matter. I would certainly like to have a copy of Mr. Hinger's work as featured on your site and, in fact, I do very much like it. On the other hand, if he truely did murder two people, that is no insignificant matter and my ethical loyalty would be with the victims of the crime. How would they feel about my supporting his work? I am seeking more information on this matter so as to make a decision as to where I stand on the issue. It is a lovely work at a very reasonable price from an artist whose work I have admired in the past. On the other hand, no reasonable price or lovely work is worth compromising one's ethics and principles. Thank you for the help you have offered. I need to ponder and research this matter further.

Lois E Brenneman, MSN, APN
Ouch!

climber
Mar 19, 2006 - 09:51pm PT
Lois, forget that convict. Here's an owl for you. His name is Buford Pierre.

LEB

climber
Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2006 - 09:56pm PT
Ouch,

He IS very cute, indeed!

Lois

LEB

climber
Glen Gardner
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 19, 2006 - 10:13pm PT
Ouch,

Did you create that owl yourself (i.e. original artwork)? He is quite charming

Lois
Holdplease2

Big Wall climber
Yosemite area
Mar 19, 2006 - 10:15pm PT
Bet that mouse would beg to differ...

Ouch, tell me now, is this #1 in a series of 2, or maybe even 3?

-Kate.
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