The Justice Files: Family seeks justice for grandfather

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HELPER, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – It’s been six months since Max Heino died following an assault.

The 85-year-old died after he was allegedly attacked by his neighbor. From the outset Heino’s family claimed the beating caused his death. Yet the neighbor Rikhard Tallent was only charged with assault, a Class B misdemeanor.

Last Friday, Heino’s family learned the charges were elevated to homicide by assault against Tallent.  He was also charged with assault for hitting Heino’s wife.

“I am extremely happy about things that my grandpa is going to be getting the justice that he deserves,” said his granddaughter Felicia Garcia-Otero.  “He deserves this justice.”

The Justice Files first reported about the incident last November. Tallent who lived next door, attached his mailbox onto the stand belonging to Heino.  But according to his granddaughter, it was falling apart and her grandfather took it down and placed it back on Tallent’s property. Tallent apparently didn’t like that.

“So he came up to my grandpa’s property to fight” said Garcia-Otero in November.  “He kicked my grandpa two to four times in the leg. He also punched my grandma in the face and shoved the fence into her.”

According to a report filed by Helper police Tallent refused to cooperate and was arrested for outstanding warrants.While in jail he did acknowledge his role in the fight.

“I kicked him in the n—,” Tallent allegedly said to a deputy.

Days later, Heino died and Tallent was eventually charged with two counts of simple assault. But following the results of an autopsy, the Carbon County attorney amended the charge to homicide by assault in the case involving Heino.

“It’s like I’m reliving it all over again,” said Garcia-Otero.  “I’m an emotional wreck because I miss my grandpa so much.” 

Tallent was booked and released following the November misdemeanor.  Friday, he received a summons to appear in court for the latest charge.  It’s a sore spot with the granddaughter.

“I feel like he is a danger to society and I don’t want him to hurt anybody else or destroy anybody else’s family like he did ours,” said Garcia-Otero.

But she said she’ll continue to monitor Tallent’s case as it moves through the court system.  She said she is doing this to honor her grandfather.

“He always showed so much love,” said Garcia-Otero.   He always wanted to be around me. He always wanted to be around my kids. He was just an all amazing great guy.”

Tallent was recently jailed in Carbon County on an unrelated crime  According to court documents he failed to appear in court for a case involving cruelty to animals.  After a warrant was issued he was jailed but released after appearing before a judge.  He has another court date in June on this latest charge of homicide by assault.

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