Emma Redlinger

District Judge Paul Miller sentenced William Hines, Jr., to 60 days in the Benton County jail, with another 360 days suspended, bringing to an end the two-year legal case that followed the accidental shooting of Emma Redlinger.

Issuing a sentence more stringent than that which County Attorney Dave Thompson and defense attorney John Breitbach had negotiated, Judge Miller also ordered a two year probation that includes drug testing and forbids the use of alcohol or drugs by the defendant.

Hines told the court before sentencing that he would do anything if he could speak to Emma Redlinger one more time, to tell her he was sorry, and that the shooting was an accident.

Reading a brief statement to the court, Hines says he did not point the gun at Emma, and does not remember pulling the trigger, but conceded that he must have done so. He told the court that he and some friends were hanging out at the Winterroth residence that evening, playing video games, when someone put that gun on the table on Feb. 24, 2015. Emma, shot in the head, died four days later, never regaining consciousness.

In January, Hines filed a written guilty plea to the charges of involuntary manslaughter, interference with official acts and harassment of a peace officer. Miller sentenced Hines to 30 days in the county jail on each of those simple misdemeanor charges. Those charges stem from false statements Hines (and others) gave Vinton police officers after they responded to the report of the shooting. Hines, now 19, was just a few days shy of his 17th birthday when the incident occurred. He was charged in February of 2016  with involuntary manslaughter, and faced trial in adult court.

Judge Miller told Hines that despite the agreement between the prosecutor and his defense attorney, he could not “in good conscience” issue a deferred judgment (which does not show up on a defendant’s criminal history). The judge also reminded Hines that if he violates the terms of probation, he could be required to serve the 360-day sentence.

The judge received victim impact statements from Emma’s dad Steve, who recommended a prison sentence; and her mom, Aimee, who told the court she thought probation would be best for Hines. Another statement, from Emma’s cousin Kaylee Graves, was read during the hearing. Graves described Emma’s death as motivation for her to join the Marines, something she had wanted to do but was afraid of trying before Emma died.

“The defendant took from this world an excellent person,” Thompson said, adding that Hines has “big shoes to fill,” and can only do so by making something of himself.

Breitbach, speaking on Hines’ behalf, told the court that after Emma’s death, Hines found a job working at the All Clear window cleaning company of Cedar Rapids, which has a mandatory drug testing policy. Breitbach read a letter from Hines’ boss, praising Hines for his work and compliments he receives from customers.

The death of Emma Redlinger was life-changing for Hines, said Breitbach, who told the judge that Hines  is “not going to let himself go back” to the bad decisions he had made before.

“Somebody is going to be looking over his shoulder for the next two years,” Breitbach continued. “I am confident he will not be back in this courtroom, or any other court.”

Hines must report to the Benton County Jail by 10 a.m. on Friday, April 7, to begin serving his 60-day term. The court allowed him to have work release, and advised the defendant and his attorney to begin making arrangements for that with the jail staff.

Others charged after a year-long police investigation have already had their cases adjudicated; the person serving the longest sentence is Robyn Winterroth, who pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge to giving a gun to a prohibited person, her son, Dillon, who she knew to be a user and distributor of marijuana. In October, Robyn Winterroth was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison. Dillon Winterroth pleaded guilty to charges related to the case and spent a few months in the State Training School in Eldora.

In January, after Hines filed his guilty plea, Aimee Redlinger told Vinton Today she did not wish to ruin Hines’ life, or to see him go to jail for a long time.

“Our job is to love and forgive,” she said then. She also repeated her desire that others remember Emma for her life and personality than for the way she died. See that story HERE.