The Justice Files: Jury settles homicide over mailbox dispute

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It wasn’t the kind of justice Max Heino’s family was hoping for.

In fact, the man who was charged with killing the 85-year old Helper man walked away a free man.

Last week, a judge sentenced Rikhard Tallent to time served, allowing him to leave the Carbon County jail.

In late April, a jury found Tallent not guilty of homicide by assault. But they found him guilty of two counts of simple assault.

Tallent was facing felony charge after he was charged with causing the death of Heino in October, 2019.

It began with a dispute over a mailbox in 2019. Homeowner Max Heino was assaulted by Tallent after the elderly man took down Tallent’s mailbox. Tallent had attached his mailbox to Heino and had been warned not to do it any longer.

It came to head when Heino took it down and Tallent confronted him.

“What bothers me is that he threatened to come out and kick my butt and I looked at him and said ‘well come on,’ Tallent said to Helper Police. “He stepped out of the gate and kicked him right in the (expletive) nuts.”

Heino died days after the assault.

Tallent’s admission was from a police body camera that was played in during the 72-year old’s trial.

But the jury was not totally convinced the assault led to Heino’s death.

His attorney claimed Heino had serious health problems that contributed to his death.

The jury acquitted him of the homicide, but found him guilty of two counts of assault. Tallent also struck Heino’s wife.

At last week’s sentencing, Tallent had no words to share.

Judge Don Torgerson: “Mr. Tallent would you like to make a comment before sentencing?”

Tallent: “No, no sir. Sorry.”

Tallent, who had been in jail since last July, was released from custody. The judge said he could only sentence him on the two assault charges because the jury acquitted him of the homicide.

Judge Torgerson gave him credit for time served and Tallent was released the following day.

Heino’s family felt that justice was not served.

“It would have been nice to have a guilty verdict just to have him be responsible for what he did to our father,” said Heino’s daughter Terri Shimmin.

She said the jury overlooked the medical evidence that claimed Heino suffered a blood clot from the attack. According to Shimmin who followed the trial, the blood clot travelled to his brain and exploded, causing him to die.

About six months after Heino died, his wife Jean also died. She too was a victim of Tallent’s assault.

The legal outcome wasn’t what Shimmin expected, but she said it’s time to move on.

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“I am not going to give him the power (that I) be so consumed with anger or just frustration because he wins again,” Shimmin said. “So I’ve just had to let it go as best I can.”

However, Rikhard Tallent isn’t done with the legal sysltem. Last summer, he was charged with aggravated assault for striking another member of Heino’s family. He faces a trial in September.

He’s currently facing misdemeanor charges for cruelty to animals. His next court appearance will be next month on that charge.

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