Trial reset in shooting death of Vinton girl, 14

William Hines Jr. charged with felony involuntary manslaughter

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VINTON — The trial for a 17-year-old, charged in the shooting death of a 14-year-old Vinton girl in 2015, has been reset to November in Benton County District Court.

William Hines Jr. of Vinton, is charged as an adult with felony involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor charges of interference with official acts and harassment of public officers and employees. He faces up to five years in prison.

Benton County Attorney David Thompson said the defense wanted more time to prepare for the case.

On Friday, Sixth Judicial District Judge Lars Anderson continued the case and reset the trial to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Court documents show Hines was with Emma Redlinger, Jacob Hissong and Dillon Winterroth in Winterroth’s bedroom at 1207 W. Fourth St. in Vinton on Feb. 24, 2015. The three teens initially lied to police, saying Winterroth was cleaning his Walther HK MPS 22LR semi-automatic rifle when it suddenly went off, the bullet hitting Emma in the head.

Later, during another police interview, Hines and the other two boys recanted their story and said Hines was holding the gun when it unintentionally discharged, court documents show.

Emma died from her head injuries four days later at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Hines told police he didn’t think the magazine worked and he couldn’t remember if his finger was on the trigger when it went off, according to court documents.

Hissong also told police that after Emma was shot the three boys planned to tell a different story of what happened because Hines was scared and didn’t want to get into trouble, the documents state.

Court records show Hines denied the three of them planning a story, as Hissong said. Hines said Winterroth just took the blame and he was scared and let him.

Winterroth, now 17, pleaded guilty last week in juvenile court to drug and other misdemeanor charges. He also was placed at the Boys State Training School in Eldora until he completes the program.

Hissong, now 17, also was charged in juvenile court with making false reports to public safety entities, interference with official acts and harassment of public officers and employees, all misdemeanors. He received six months probation in May, a juvenile consent decree shows.

Winterroth’s mother, Robyn Merchant, 52, was convicted in federal court of one count of transfer of a firearm to a prohibited person. Merchant admitted to investigators that she purchased the .22 caliber rifle and gave it to her son.

Merchant also admitted during a plea hearing that she knew her son was a regular marijuana user at the time.

An investigator testified during one of Merchant’s hearings that authorities found evidence that marijuana was being sold out of Merchant’s residence. Juveniles, in testifying before a grand jury, said they purchased marijuana from Winterroth and sometimes from his mother if he wasn’t around.

Merchant faces up to 10 years in federal prison. Her sentencing hasn’t been set at this time.

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